Keeping College Costs Affordable

Leaders of public colleges and universities in Ohio are feeling the heat, as the crushing burden of student debt combines with the realization that the number of jobs requiring only certificates, apprenticeships, associate degrees and other non-four-year credentials is on the rise.

So, the four-year institutions have joined forces in a campaign called Forward Ohio to attempt to regain the upper hand in being the first choice of high school seniors and others seeking a higher education. To do so, they are attempting to remind Ohioans they are undereducated, that there is a “talent gap” in the state, and that attending an institution of higher learning is “worth it.”

“There has been a sentiment more recently kind of questioning whether or not baccalaureate degrees have value,” Bruce Johnson, president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, said. “We just think there needs to be some restatement of the facts. The truest pathway to the middle class is through a baccalaureate degree.”

There is little doubt a four-year degree can have value — and, in fact, a public college or university is probably one of the best places to attain one. The question is whether that value measures up against the years, maybe even decades, of student loan repayment; and whether that degree prepares graduates for the job market. For some young people, it does not.

Schools participating in Forward Ohio are spending money on an economic-impact study on the value of Ohio’s public universities. It is not difficult to guess what results the study being funded by the public universities will yield.

Predictably, the institutions are also asking lawmakers for more money. They say they need it to keep the cost of a four-year degree from soaring even higher.

Let us hope that as they ask for more money and mount a public relations campaign seeking students, the college and university officials find ways to cut their own spending — to make themselves the value to students they claim to be.

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