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One less barrier for higher education

MICHAEL CALDWELL

By Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune

Higher education officials envision the Tuition Reciprocity Agreement as far more than just a tuition break and hope to design degree programs that work seamlessly between the six colleges involved.

"This is a momentous occasion for all of us," Dennis Taulbee, associate vice president and general counsel for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, said in a press conference Thursday at Ohio University Southern. "Reciprocity is important for the regions, institutions and people who live in those regions and are seeking to better their lives."

The TRA will allow students from 13 Kentucky and Ohio counties to pay in-state tuition at participating schools in the other state. The next step is designing programs that will offer students more options by beginning a degree at one school and completing it at another, Robert Glidden, president of Ohio University, said.

Schools included in the agreement are Ashland Community College, Ashland Technical College, Morehead State University-Ashland Campus, Ohio University Southern, Rio Grande Community College and Shawnee State University.

Eligible counties are Boyd, Carter, Elliot, Greenup, Lawrence, Lewis and Mason counties in Kentucky and Adams, Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike and Scioto counties in Ohio.

"I think residents of the region do not think about being part of different states," Glidden said. "There just happens to be a river in between us."

With this agreement, joint-degree and specialized programs that are too expensive for one university could be offered collectively, Glidden said.

"It allows each university to build on its strengths instead of being all things to all people," he said.

Greg Adkins, chief executive officer at Ashland Community and Technical College, agreed that this is a historic day and is a great step to address the need for affordable higher education in Appalachia.

All the college's programs are included and the agreement overcame the fact that some of the schools operate on quarters and others on semesters, Adkins said.

"The agreement is truly a triumph of values and a vision over bureaucracy," he said. "The result of this agreement will be felt, particularly in our region, for years and years to come."

Adkins announced that ACC and Shawnee State University have already established 2+2 programs for accounting, general business and health management. This will allow students to attend ACC for two years for an associate's degree and continue for two years at SSU to complete the bachelor's program.

The idea of a tuition agreement has been discussed for years and the entire project would not be possible without the cooperation and initiative of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and the Ohio Board of Regents, Dan Evans, dean of OUS, said.

Although the savings vary from school to school, Ohio University undergraduate students who were previously considered non-residents will save approximately $400 per quarter, a total of $1,200 a year.

"Shawnee State has about 200 students from Kentucky," Michael J. Field, interim president of Shawnee State University, said. "Most will be in for a pleasant surprise when they pay their tuition in January."

The agreement goes into effect Jan. 1, 2003 and ends June 30, 2003. However, it can be renewed for a two-year term that would begin July 1, 2003 and end June 30, 2005.