Last week I had the privilege of attending my fourth state of the state address delivered by Governor John Kasich in Marietta, Ohio. It was a little over a year ago that Governor Kasich visited Wilmington, Ohio for this annual event. Presiding over this joint session of the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate were Senate President Keith Faber and Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger.
Perhaps it’s just my sense of optimism, but it seems that each successive state of the state address has become more celebratory of progress made during the past year, more optimistic of an even brighter future, and more ambitious of the work yet to be accomplished. There is no area more ambitious than this Governor’s efforts to reduce the cost of college for Ohio’s young people.
In addition to highlighting a two-year tuition freeze and progress made since last year’s task force on efficiency and affordability, the Governor outlined three common sense reforms to significantly reduce the cost of a four-year degree. All three leverage the existing strengths of colleges like Southern State Community College.
Governor Kasich proposed efforts to allow more students to take up to three years of classes at a community college before transferring to a four-year university, saving a student up to 75 percent of the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Similarly, he has reintroduced an idea to allow community colleges to offer a limited number of bachelor degrees in technical areas to meet the needs of local employers, again at the more affordable community college tuition. Finally, he proudly announced that during just the first semester of this school year, high school students’ participation in College Credit Plus has saved Ohio families $50 million. We are proud to partner with over 30 high schools in our region to offer this opportunity to growing numbers of college-ready students.
Ohio is blessed with an array of public and private institutions of higher education. I hold degrees from three of them. For me, the University of Cincinnati was my “community college.” At the time it was a short commute with an affordable tuition. In fact, I could work 20 hours a week and save enough before the next quarter’s tuition was due to pay it. So could a young person do that today? Absolutely, but only if he or she would take advantage of the common sense reforms outlined in Wednesday evening’s speech.
One last thing. Governor Kasich said that he had come home from his travels around the country to realize that there’s no place like home, no place like Ohio. I would add, there’s no place like Southern Ohio!
Dr. Boys is the president of Southern State Community College.