The University of Akron would get less money, while Kent State and the Northeast Ohio Medical University would get more, under newly released estimates for state aid.
Projected distributions of the so-called State Share of Instruction (SSI) for 2014 were announced Friday by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management and the nonprofit Ohio Inter-University Council.
The estimates reflect massive changes suggested last year by the Higher Education Funding Commission, a committee of state leaders that Ohio State President Gordon Gee chaired. It ties state aid more heavily to college graduation rates to incentivize degree completion.
Currently, about 25 percent of state residents have earned bachelor’s degrees — below the national average — and that holds down Ohio’s economy, Gov. John Kasich believes.
“The governor is laser-focused on job creation and growing the state’s economy,” Ohio Inter-University Council President Bruce Johnson said. “We’re aligning the state funding with outcomes. It won’t be easy. There’s always additional room for education from our perspective.”
Kasich was so happy with the work of the Higher Education Funding Commission that he allocated an additional $33 million — a 1.9 percent increase — to higher education in 2014 in the proposed budget he’s sending to state legislators this month, OBM Director Tim Keen said.
The proposal would shave the SSI to UA’s main Akron campus by minus-0.1 percent to $90.9 million and to its Wayne campus by minus-1.9 percent to $3.5 million.
David Cummins, UA vice president for finance and administration, said the university had been “working on the assumption that we were going to be flat. We knew that in the short run, the emphasis on degree completion would hurt us.”
Bowling Green State University, Central State, Shawnee State and the University of Toledo also would see dips in their SSI next year.
Meanwhile, the SSI for Kent State’s main campus would rise 5.3 percent to $101.8 million, the largest percentage increase of any four-year main campus. State aid for six of KSU’s seven regional campuses would go up anywhere from 0.3 percent to 4.4 percent. Only the Trumbull campus would see a decline.
In a written statement, KSU President Lester Lefton said the university appreciates “that the governor continues to prioritize higher education. The Kent State community is committed to student success.”
The SSI for NEOMED, the tax-supported medical college in Rootstown, would grow 2.3 percent to $15.4 million.
Under the proposal for universities, 50 percent of state dollars would be tied to a rolling three-year average of graduation rates. Currently, 20 percent of the SSI is tied to graduation.
The new formula also would:
• Reduce reliance on course completions, from 60 percent to 30 percent.
• Eliminate historical set-asides and earmarks that go to some universities.
• Weight courses and degrees in science, technology, engineering and math more heavily than other courses because of the higher costs of delivering them.
In a separate part of his proposed budget, Kasich also would hold tuition increases to 2 percent of the average for the institution’s sector, such as community colleges or four-year universities. That would give more wiggle room to institutions with lower tuitions. The state has limited tuition hikes to a flat 3.5 percent for the past few years.
Allocation estimates for 2015 aren’t available because the formula for two-year colleges is being fine-tuned.
Presidents of all 37 colleges and universities in the state have endorsed the funding formula.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.