by Todd DeFeo
A bill aimed at allowing students to transfer general education course credits from one public university in Ohio to another could bring with it potentially higher costs for schools, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill.
The state House unanimously passed House Bill 9, which lawmakers hope allows more students to graduate in four years and reduces student debt.
The bipartisan legislation would require institutions to notify students if they are eligible for an associates’ degree. It would also allow students to pay in advance for required classes, but that are either at capacity or unavailable – allowing the student to take the course at a later date.
“HB 9 is going to be a great asset in our continual drive to restore Ohio’s promise as an opportunity state for students and employers alike,” state Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland, said in a statement.
“We owe it to Ohio’s future – our students – to keep our promise to make college more affordable so that every student who works hard has the opportunity to get ahead by graduating on time and without a mountain of student debt,” Sweeney added. “HB 9 makes it easier for every Ohioan to live out their American dream, right here at home in Ohio.”
Under the bill, the chancellor of higher education must develop an electronic equivalency management tool to help transfer coursework and degrees between state colleges and universities. State schools must notify the chancellor when it refuses to accept and grant credit for coursework a student completes at another state institution.
However, under the bill, state institutions of higher education may forego revenue from waiving some eligible students’ tuition and general fees for a course needed to complete a bachelor’s degree, according to an analysis from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC). But, how much revenue institutions will forego depends on how many students are eligible for a tuition waiver and a school’s tuition rates, the analysis found.
“The bill may increase the administrative costs of state institutions and the Department of Higher Education to comply with certain prescribed reporting, study, or rule development and adoption requirements,” the LSC said in its review of the bill the state House passed.
Several Ohio schools previously participated in the pilot of a similar program that operated at 61 two-year institutions in nine states. A foundation supported Ohio schools with roughly $111,000 in grants that passed through the Department of Higher Education.
“Many of our students attending institutions of higher education are not completing their degrees in four years or less,” Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, said in a statement. “This legislation will help students enter the workforce and begin their careers. When students are having to stay longer to complete a degree, they are accumulating more debt. It’s time we help our students stay on track with their education or help them see if they’re eligible for an associate’s degree or certificate.”
The state Senate could soon consider HB 9.
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Todd DeFeo is regular contributor to The Center Square.