University of Findlay President Testifies at Ohio House Finance Subcommittee
University of Findlay President, Katherine Fell, Ph.D., joined members of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO) to express support of Governor Mike DeWine’s budget proposal. President Fell joined presidents from Ursuline College and Ohio Dominican University to talk about DeWine’s proposal to increase the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) by 92 percent for fiscal year 2023, and an additional 60 percent in fiscal year 2024.
“I am particularly grateful to Governor DeWine, Chancellor Gardner, and to you (members of the House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education) for considering the bold proposal. I pledge to you that the University of Findlay will continue to do its part to deliver a return on the state’s investment,” said President Fell. Fell shared with committee members the efforts UF is making through partnerships with Blanchard Valley Health System and The Center for Advanced Manufacturing. She also highlighted the success of the University’s academic programs, and shared UF’s commitment to making education affordable for its undergraduates. She stated that UF brings to the table $56 million in tuition aid in addition to the proceeds from endowed scholarships of $1.5 million annually.
The Ohio College Opportunity Grant is a need-based student aid program for tuition and fees, and until DeWine’s budget proposal, hadn’t seen a change since the program was created in 2005. Governor DeWine’s budget would expand the current eligibility requirements, raising the threshold for students having an expected family contribution (EFC) of $2,190 or less to those with an EFC of up to $10,000.
C. Todd Jones, President and General Counsel of AICUO, represents 52 non-profit, independent colleges in Ohio, including University of Findlay. Jones also supports the increase in state aid, as he believes it will help allow more students to attend school and help keep graduates in the state. “Ohio is dead last in the Midwest in helping low-income students attend post-secondary options,” said Jones. “Our surrounding states – the direct competitions for our workforce – are sending a message ‘Don’t stay in Ohio. We will pay you to come get your degree and be part of our workforce.’”
Jones highlighted the statistics surrounding Ohio colleges and the benefit of independent schools. “Ohio’s independent colleges and universities import 16,326 students into Ohio annually,” he said. “As the state looks at ways to retain and attract Ohioans, higher education institutions should be seen as a recruitment tool.”
Jones also shared a graph that showed AICUO independent schools lead the way in graduation rates when compared to Ohio public four-year main campuses and Ohio community colleges. Full-time students are graduating at a rate of 53% at AICUO schools, compared to 51% of public schools, and just 16% of community colleges. Part-time students showed similar differences, with 47% of students graduating from AICUO schools, 43% from public schools, and 23% from community colleges.
Governor DeWine’s proposed budget also includes the establishment of a new $5,000 merit-based grant to the top five percent of each high school graduating class. The grant could be used to attend any post-secondary higher education institution of their choice. “This proposal means the top five percent of each high school in every single school district of the state will be eligible for the scholarship,” said Jones. “This sends a message to our future workforce that our state is willing to invest in you to help make Ohio a better place for all of us.”
Following discussion and votes by the Ohio House and Senate, the proposed budget would head back to Governor DeWine’s desk for final approval. With a signature deadline of June 30, the budget would take effect on July 1st, the first day of the new state fiscal year.