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March 2, 2015

Bill passes to help families address college costs

The weeks leading up to Easter were busy times at the Statehouse, which included the House passing several parts of Governor Kasich’s Mid-Biennial Review, or MBR. As the title implies, the MBR is a review of the budget bill that was passed during the previous year. Although I have been sharing details and information about the MBR bills with constituents and public leaders throughout the 84th House District, for the sake of this column, I would like to focus on just one.

One piece of legislation that cleared the House earlier this month was House Bill 484, which addressed some of the needs regarding colleges and universities in the state of Ohio. I believe our state has some of the finest higher learning institutions in the country, and many people are aware of the vast selection that students coming out of high school have when choosing either a two- or four-year school. So this legislation was very important, and I was proud to vote for it.

Among other things, House Bill 484 permits community colleges to create tuition guarantee programs, which I believe are a great way to enhance financial certainty for students and families upon choosing a college. A tuition guarantee program simply locks in a tuition rate for all four years, with the promise that the rate will not increase at any point during the student’s tenure at the school.

As you can imagine, this is a very important piece of information for parents. Knowing how much an education will cost—not only in the first year, but every year—allows families to plan accordingly and to better know what they are getting into.

Also on the topic of costs, everyone is concerned about how much a college education costs these days. While tuition guarantee programs are good for enhancing certainty, we must also be aware of ways to lower costs altogether. Therefore, HB 484 creates the “Higher Education Student Financial Aid Workgroup,” which will examine the various types of financial aid in Ohio and make recommendations to Governor Kasich and the General Assembly by the end of the year. This group is but one part of a larger effort to help lower costs for prospective college students, including looking at tuition, increasing efficiency and financial aid opportunities.

Having passed the House, the bill is now being looked at by the Ohio Senate, and I expect it will meet a similar fate in that chamber.

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