Thursday, April 24, 2003

MU raises tuition, switches to one rate

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

OXFORD - Miami University trustees on Wednesday raised tuition 9.9 percent, effective this summer. They also made Miami the nation's first public university to set one tuition rate for all students, beginning fall 2004.

Annual tuition and fees for in-state students will increase 9.9 percent, the same as last year's increase. The annual cost will go from $7,600 to $8,353. The cost for out-of-state students will jump 10.9 percent (from $16,324 to $18,103).

Here's how Miami's new one-rate tuition plan will work:

In fall 2004, new in-state and out-of-state students will be charged the same sticker price. If the plan were implemented this fall, that cost would be $18,103.

The additional money will give the university greater flexibility in offering better financial aid to students from middle-income families in Ohio.

All Ohio students - and only Ohio students - will receive two new scholarships.

The first is the Ohio Resident Scholarship. It's a fixed award for all undergraduate Ohio residents, equal to or greater than the annual per-student funding from the state (about $5,000).

The second is the Ohio Leader Scholarship, based on need, ability, and intent to major in subjects vital to the state's economic development. Some higher-income students will pay more. They will remain eligible for other scholarships.

The increase addresses state budget cuts and the burgeoning cost of doing business, Miami President James C. Garland said Wednesday.

The school is paying more for technical journals, lab equipment and computer technology. But officials have also had to spend more for students' mental health needs and to keep professors' salaries on pace with inflation.

"The big drive is the continuing decline in state support," Garland said. "Since 2000, we have lost more than 12 percent in our state subsidy. And what we're facing in the next biennium, frankly, looks grim."

The action is tough to swallow for some students.

"If it's necessary to keep facilities open, then you have to do it," said Brian Byrne, a freshman business major from Cleveland.

"I do have a couple student loans so it's something to think about. It's more money that I'm going to pay down the road. Hopefully, it won't go up too much more."

With virtually no debate, the board of trustees also voted to implement a first-of-its-kind tuition plan in public higher education. Both in-state and out-of-state students will be charged the same tuition as part of a comprehensive plan that school officials say will help middle-income families in Ohio better afford higher education.

Miami already charges the highest tuition of any public institution in the state, about $1,500 above the state average of $6,134 in 2002.

The restructuring is an effort to replace student loans with cash scholarships for families who make too much money to qualify for federal aid programs but still have financial need. The new plan will not affect current students nor those who have enrolled for fall 2003.

"Ohio's political leaders have asked us to be imaginative." said Roger Howe, chairman of the board. "As trustees, we've been asked to find ways to improve universities in fundamental ways. But at the same time, Ohio - like many states - is struggling to come to terms with the financial realities of the time."

Top officials at the American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for the nation's higher education institutions, have praised the proposal as bold and innovative.

"What Miami has proposed is a strategy known as high tuition, high aid," said Terry Hartle, ACE senior vice president. "It has been discussed at great length in public higher education. It's just that no one has had the courage to try it. I think an awful lot of institutions will be looking at this to see if this strategy will work for them."


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