State Sen. Keith Faber (R-Celina) along with two presidents from higher learning institutions conducted a panel on higher education affordability Thursday morning.
The panel was held at the Coppertop Restaurant, 116 Miami St., and was hosted by the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to Faber, The Ohio State University President Dr. Michael V. Drake and Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin also participated in the panel.
Faber said college affordability is crucial for the state to retain students within the state and after college.
“Ohio educates an awful lot of young people,” Faber said. “Our key is to make sure we keep them in Ohio and the way to keep them in Ohio is to grow jobs and strengthen the economy.
“If you graduate in Ohio with an engineering degree and you can’t find an engineering job, I really haven’t done much for Ohio. I’m much more concerned about where people who graduate from Ohio institutions go after graduation than where they came from to go to the Ohio institution.”
During the discussion, Faber spoke about a challenge the state senate gave to higher education institutions two years ago to reduce the cost of obtaining a college degree. As part of the challenge, higher education institutions were asked to reduce the in-state student cost of attendance by five percent for the 2016-2017 academic year with the goal to be more efficient and lower student costs.
Faber said he was proud of the senate’s work in addressing higher education in the state’s biennium budget.
The budget froze in-state undergraduate tuition for two years while requiring higher education institutions to to develop and implement a plan to provide Ohio residents the opportunity to reduce the cost of earning a degree by five percent.
Faber commended higher education leaders for their efforts in addressing college affordability.
“Legislators can certainly set priorities and can certainly help guide,” he said. “But without leadership, without leadership in the higher education institutions we can’t get the job done and these two presidents who are with me today have shown that leadership.”
Drake said tuition accounts for about 30 percent of the overall cost of attending college. At Ohio State, he said this can cost between $25,000 to $30,000 per year.
Blondin mentioned that one of the ways Clark State has addressed tuition costs is offering certain rebates for students who meet grade requirements in previous semester. The college also has partnerships with local universities that allow students to save money by taking classes at the community college before going to another university.
During the discussion, Faber stated students do not necessarily need a four-year degree to be successful, adding that the state will only grow if the number of people with higher education increases. An example of higher education outside of a university Faber provided was a vocational training program.
“Vocation programs used to have a dirty name to them and frankly now they’re some of the highest income producers for people and some of the best career opportunities,” Faber said. “Certainly I think higher education has a place when you talk about four year and graduate degrees and doctorate degrees, but in the end we need to make sure that we’re providing the education that our students and Ohioans need for the jobs that are here.”