State Universities, Governor Agree To Limit Tuition Increases

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state's public universities and Gov. Bob Taft announced an agreement Tuesday to limit tuition increases for all students for the next academic year.

However, the 13 universities still will be able to charge incoming students more than current ones, proposals Ohio State University and Ohio University trustees both are considering.

The Inter-University Council, made up of the university presidents, agreed to keep tuition increases below 10 percent for current students. Twelve of the schools would be able to charge first-year students an additional $300, and Ohio State would be able to charge an additional $475.

"We feel that the students who are already enrolled didn't have a chance to choose, but incoming freshmen will have the chance to choose whether to attend that university," said Joe Andrews, the governor's spokesman. "People already enrolled came in with the understanding that they wouldn't have that additional cost."

In exchange, Taft agreed not to include a tuition cap in the capital budget, which the Legislature must approve this year.

"We certainly hope it will end any meaningful discussion of reimposing statutorily imposed caps," said Jim McCollum, the IUC's executive director.

Earlier this month, Taft told the universities that he would be forced to ask lawmakers to reimpose a cap if the schools could not show restraint. His warning came as Ohio State proposed raising tuition 35 percent for incoming students and Ohio University proposed a 19.5 percent increase for new students.

There is no written agreement, but Taft is confident the schools will stick to it, Andrews said.

The agreement covers only the 2002-2003 school year and was made under the assumption that the state won't have to cut any more of the higher education budget this year.

Should more budget cuts take place, Andrews said, the two sides would have to renegotiate.

The state cut higher education funding by 6 percent, or $121 million, this year to help fill a $1.5 billion state budget deficit.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)