University clarifies tuition changes in upcoming year

By Anna Toth

Cleveland State University announced that they planned to raise tuition for in-state students by 6 percent starting with the incoming students in fall 2018. However, the incoming class won’t see another hike in tuition for four years under a new Cleveland State University (CSU) Guarantee plan.

The plan stems from Ohio allowing universities to raise their tuition a certain amount after freezing tuition rates for five years. However, the tuition freeze is still in affect, and the CSU Guarantee plan comes with limitations.

“Tuition is not going to start raising by 6 percent every year,” Tim Long, associate vice president of finance and budget, said.

For the incoming freshman class and juniors, they’re guaranteed the same tuition rate they started with for four years. While this means a 6 percent increase for the freshman and juniors who join Cleveland State in fall 2018, after that it can only increase according to a rate of inflation.

“Because inflation has been relatively low, the inflation rate might be around 1.5 percent,” Long said.

However, this is just an estimate. In addition, it does not apply to out-of-state residents, and it does not include things like lab fees, service fees like career services and athletics, textbooks or general fees.

This is the first tuition increase at Cleveland State since Ohio’s tuition freeze started five years ago. While Ohio won’t be lifting that tuition freeze, the tuition guarantee is the only way that Ohio universities can raise their tuition.

Room and board tuition for the new fall 2018 students will experience a price hike. Those will be increased by 5 percent in the upcoming school year, but will remain constant for four years.

While Long can’t say that every university will be creating plans similar to the CSU Guarantee, other schools like Ohio, Miami, and Ohio State University have all submitted or drafted plans. The CSU Guarantee still needs to be approved by the Ohio Department of Higher Education before anything becomes official.

The tuition for current undergraduates will not be affected by the hike in tuition, but there were many reasons to raise the tuition and switch to this guarantee plan allowed by the state.

“One is to provide some level of stability for students and their families over the four-year period,” Long said. “We want to lower the time of the degree.”

The other point of the guarantee is to help Cleveland State make money. Ohio hasn’t allowed tuition increases for the last five years, which obviously affects the school’s ability to make money. Only 30 percent of Cleveland State’s revenue comes from state funds while the rest are from donors or sponsors.

While the decrease in state funding hurts Cleveland State, the current legislation in place prevents the university from raising tuition to however much is needed to make up for what they don’t get from the state.

“We can’t just raise tuition to make up for the loss in funding,” Long said.

Ohio originally froze tuition after complaints over the cost of college around 2014. It’s one of the only states that have been trying to actively do something about the cost of higher education in the United States.

“It’s a delicate balance between keeping the students’ costs affordable and operating at a certain level academically,” Long said. “We have an obligation to keep costs as low here as we can.”

Long admits that this isn’t an ideal situation, but he understands the needs to keep costs low at the university. However, he remains cautiously optimistic about the plan.

“It balances student costs with the obligations of the plan,” Long said. “If it doesn’t work out, we go to the state and say we have to readjust. It’s an equitable compromise for both sides.”