Friday, April 4, 2003

Miami may go to one tuition rate

Students in-state or out would be charged the same

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Miami University may soon charge in-state and out-of-state students the same sticker price for tuition - one piece of a multi-faceted plan that school officials say will help middle-income families in Ohio better afford higher education.

President James C. Garland will announce today that he plans to present the plan to the school's board of trustees April 23. If approved, Miami would become the first public university in the nation to adopt the tuition model often used by private schools, officials said.

The new cost structure - with tuition in the $16,000 range - would begin with those admitted in the fall of 2004.

These are three hypothetical cases of students who would receive scholarships under a new tuition structure being proposed at Miami University. The scenarios are based on 2002-2003 tuition after a three-year phase-in of the change.

Case 1: Engineering student, $250,000 annual family income

Miami tuition $16,300

Ohio Resident Scholarship ($5,000)

Ohio Leader Scholarship ($2,200)

Net cost to attend Miami: $9,100

Case 2: Student with $80,000 annual family income

Miami tuition $16,300

Ohio Resident Scholarship ($5,000)

Ohio Leader Scholarship ($5,800)

Net cost to attend Miami: $5,500

Case 3: Student with $30,000 annual family income

Miami tuition $16,300

Ohio Resident Scholarship ($5,000)

Ohio Leader Scholarship ($4,700)

Pell Grants, other aid ($5,400)

Net cost to attend Miami: $1,200

Garland said the move would help Ohioans, especially middle-class families, who struggle to pay high college costs because the university would offset the increase by providing scholarships to all Ohio applicants who are accepted.

"This plan is aimed primarily at middle-income students and at bright Ohio students who now go outside the state to attend universities like Notre Dame, Vanderbilt or Northwestern," Garland said. "The plan will give us the scholarship flexibility to compete with these schools for students with no added cost to the state.

"Although we will show a higher listed tuition, after the new scholarships and other awards are applied, the net cost to attend Miami for many Ohio applicants will actually drop. Our goal is to replace student loans with cash scholarships for outstanding middle-income Ohio students who now struggle to afford a Miami education."

The new plan would have no impact on students now enrolled or those admitted for fall 2003, though they would see paper changes on tuition invoices. Larger scholarships would then be granted to Ohio residents from lower- and middle-income families starting in the fall of 2004.

Here is how the plan would work:

Miami now charges $7,600 per year in tuition for in-state students on the Oxford campus and $16,300 for non-Ohio students. If the new model were in effect today, the charge to every student would be $16,300.

Ohio residents would then receive average scholarships of $8,700 to bring the net cost back down to $7,600, school officials said Thursday.

To honor its public responsibility as a state school, the university would offer Ohio students a rollback in the form of two new scholarships. Both would be awarded to every student for the foreseeable future, Garland said.

The first, called the Ohio Resident Scholarship, is a set amount that's equal to or greater than the core per-capita funding from the state. For the first year, that amount would be $5,000. It would be renewed until graduation for up to six years.

The second, a discretionary Ohio Leader Scholarship, would also be given to every student but in varying amounts. This scholarship would be given preferentially to Ohioans with the largest financial burden and to those majoring in subjects the state needs.

Though there won't be a hard and fast list of majors, some that may be included are students who want to become scientists, mathematicians, entrepreneurs and teachers. Families in the highest income brackets would pay more than those in the middle. And renewals would depend on acceptable academic progress.

"This plan will help families with incomes too high to qualify for federal programs but have mortgages, car payments and sometimes two or three children in college," Garland said. "The primary benefactors of this program will be those students."

The proposal would have little impact on the poorest students because they are already eligible for other university, state and federal financial aid, school officials said.

"Others who are asked to pay higher tuition will remain eligible to receive other Miami scholarships and will need to weigh our offers before deciding whether to attend," Garland said. "Given our national reputation as one of the best values in American higher education, we're confident such students will continue to enroll with us."

Chris Davis, a 21-year-old junior from Chicago, said Garland will meet with student leaders to discuss the proposal today. The student government president and political science major didn't know specifics about the plan but said tuition remains a priority issue for Miami students.

" The proposed tuition structure is part of a long-range strategic plan called First in 2009, which aims to place Miami as the top-ranked national university of its kind by the school's bicentennial. Though the overall plan has been discussed among students and faculty for three years, today is the first general unveiling.

Miami's admissions director, Michael Mills, said at $16,300 a year Miami is seen as a top value to students outside the state.

"But inside Ohio, students often don't fully grasp that they are receiving a $16,000-plus education for less than half the cost, thanks to funding from the State of Ohio, alumni gifts and other support from the university," he said.

Garland said confidentiality was crucial in discussing this plan because the university may already run the risk of Ohio application drop-offs if potential students don't understand the change.

"This is a new way for the university to price itself, so there is a potential for misunderstanding," he said.


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