By Marc Kovac
GOP House Speaker Bill Batchelder called it a “remarkable” commitment.
U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi of Columbus, R-12th, said it was the “beginning of something special” in Ohio and the nation.
U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ashland, R-7th, commended the “leadership and vision.”
And that was just the start of praise directed at Ashland University on Tuesday after the private college announced plans to cut tuition rates by 37 percent.
“We believe ... once students see the net costs, that AU will be one of the most affordable four-year private institutions in the Midwest,” said university President Fred Finks.
Finks and Provost Frank Pettigrew were at the Statehouse Tuesday to announce the change, lowering tuition to $18,908 from a projected $30,064.
Taking into account room and board and other fees, that means the 2014-15 total cost will run a little less than $30,000 versus a little more than $40,000.
With scholarships, Pell Grants, state aid and other financial assistance, many students end up paying thousands of dollars less, Finks said.
Finks said the reduction was made possible after a realignment of AU’s budget that will be made up, in part, via increased enrollment. He said there are no plans to cut student or degree programming.
The tuition cut is the latest in a series of changes at the campus.
Ashland also has reduced the minimum number of credit hours required for a bachelor’s degree, established a number of degree programs that can be completed in three years and instituted a graduation guarantee, through which it promises to pay the cost of classes for full-time students who are unable to secure degrees in four years.
Finks said he hoped other colleges and universities would follow Ashland’s lead in cutting tuition costs.
Ashland University is located midway between Columbus and Cleveland off Interstate 71. The campus has a total of about 6,000 students.