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Lower out-of-state charges aimed at West Virginia

While the cost of most things is rising, the cost of a higher education is staying the same and in some instances it is lower.

On June 30, Gov. Ted Strickland signed the new budget and in his budget message he said, “This budget makes a commitment to education from pre-schools to universities. Instead of spiraling tuition costs, we will have a two-year tuition freeze. We make a substantial investment in our primary and secondary schools.”

At Ohio University Southern in Ironton and Proctorville, the freeze will help them be more competitive so that OU Southern will be more easily accessible.

“It actually freezes tuition for the next two years in exchange for the institutions receiving funding direct from the state,” said Dr. Dan Evans, dean of the southern campus and executive dean for the Regional Campus System of Ohio University. “I think what the governor and the legislature are saying is that we want to invest in higher education.”

The Board of Trustees has been exploring the idea of being more competitive for out-of-state students and recently lowered the surcharge for students from out of state.

“The cost of attending out of state is less than it was last year at both of these campuses,” Evans said. “I think this is good news. Not only does it allow a campus like ours to know that we will be receiving help from the state but it will be good for our students.”

The Proctorville center will provide convenient services for West Virginia students, he said.

Fall term begins after Labor Day so OU officials do not know how effective the tuition freeze and the lower surcharge for out-of-state students is yet.

“I’m confident that we have done what we can do to make it more accessible to students in our community,” said Dr. Kim Keffer, director of enrollment services at OU Southern. “With the new Proctorville center, we are starting to draw from West Virginia. Our goal is to make higher education more accessible.”

In lowering the non-resident fee, the university hopes to increase the student population. Although cost has been one of the biggest barriers, she said, federal and state aid is available to anyone who wants an education and costs should not be an issue.

“Our Tri-State area is kind of unique in that we are one community,” Keffer said. “What a college education does is to teach them to be lifelong learners and when changes come, they know how to adapt and be successful. It does more than prepare them for a specific career — it prepares them to be able to make changes. About 10 years down the road, I think you will see a big difference in the community.”