STATE BUDGET Tuition increases likely to stay capped at 6 percent

There was debate over whether to have a percentage or dollar-based limit.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Tuition increases for Ohio's colleges and universities would remain capped at 6 percent a year under the House version of the state budget expected to be approved later this week.
Republican lawmakers decided Tuesday to reject both Gov. Bob Taft's call for a 9 percent tuition increase as well as a proposal from their own members to place a dollar-based cap on tuition increases instead of a percentage cap.
Authors of the House proposal couldn't find enough backing, Speaker Jon Husted said Tuesday night.
"It was just a question of feeling that there was a better approach, to work cooperatively, because we were unable to build a consensus around that proposal. We would like to work cooperatively with higher education," he said.
Universities oppose caps in general and especially a dollar-based cap, saying it limits their ability to set prices based on resources and need.
"If tuition gets out of whack, the marketplace will take care of it," said Holly Wissing, a Miami University spokeswoman.
Percentage-based caps widen the gap between universities at the upper and lower ends of tuition, said Sen. Kevin Coughlin, a suburban Akron Republican, a proponent of the dollar caps.
"Six percent to Cincinnati is more than 6 percent to Youngstown State," Coughlin said.
By contrast, dollar-based caps "allow universities at the middle and bottom of the list to incrementally gain on those at the top of the list," he said.
Taft had sought to raise the 6 percent limit in existing law to 9 percent with the provision that the extra 3 percent be used for financial aid. Husted had opposed the 9 percent figure, saying it was too high.

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