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YSU Considers 6 Percent Tuition Hike for 2018 Freshman

Youngstown State University is considering increasing tuition and fees for next year’s freshman class, despite a two-year tuition freeze approved by lawmakers in the state's current budget.

The university is relying on a 2013 law to implement a 6 percent increase for students who enroll next fall; the university would then freeze that rate, guaranteeing the class would pay the same price through their four years of school.

“YSU has one of the lowest tuition rates in the state of Ohio, and we are definitely constrained in our ability to invest in our workforce,"  said Youngstown State Vice President for Finance and Business Operations Neal McNally. "We are limited in our ability to invest in student services.”

'If we implement this tuition-guarantee program, in four or five years ... we will have to be managing four or five different tuition rates.'

YSU’s annual tuition for the 2016-2017 school year was $8,317, the lowest among Ohio’s comprehensive public universities. Youngstown defines that as the 11 schools that offer bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. Youngstown's tuition rate for that school year was also about $6,000 less than the highest in the state, Miami University of Ohio.

Other schools trying the model
Ohio higher education institutions can implement the 6 percent increase once under state law. After that, tuition and fees for incoming classes can only be increased by the rate of inflation on the Consumer Price Index-- about 2 percent.

Ohio University, Ohio State, and Miami have also created tuition-guarantee programs. McNally said YSU is looking to those schools for advice about how to implement its own program.

One pitfall, McNally said, is that the guarantee program complicates the tuition payment process for both the university and students themselves.

“If we implement this tuition-guarantee program, in four or five years from today, we will have to be managing four or five different tuition rates for each different cohort. So that adds a lot of complexity," he said.

Families sending multiple students to the school, McNally said, could end up paying different prices depending on the year each started at the university.

McNally said the Youngstosn plan will be submitted to the state Department of Higher Education for approval as soon as this week, and to the university’s Board of Trustees in December.