14:24 PM

Report finds efficiency measures benefit students at Ohio State

A new report from the Ohio chancellor of higher education highlights how The Ohio State University is making college more affordable for students.

Ohio law requires all public institutions of higher education in the state to annually document their affordability and efficiency measures to the Department of Higher Education. The ODHE report especially focuses on how this work is reducing costs for students.

“I want to offer my appreciation to our higher education institutions for their commitment to affordability and efficiency initiatives on their campuses,” Chancellor John Carey wrote in the report. “This report illustrates the progress Ohio’s public colleges and universities are making toward a more affordable and efficient postsecondary education for all Ohioans.”

Ohio’s public colleges and universities collectively reported institutional cost savings of $320 million in fiscal 2018, about $179 million of which directly reduced costs for students. Ohio State saved its students $47.6 million for that period by expanding financial aid, reducing textbook costs, providing digital learning technology and discounting the cost of summer tuition.

“Ohio State’s commitment to affordability goes hand in hand with our focus on operational excellence,” said interim senior vice president and CFO Michael Papadakis. “Every dollar that we save through efficiency measures is redirected back into our academic mission.”

The report stems from work of the Ohio Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency in Higher Education, which in 2015 made recommendations in 10 areas, from textbook affordability to reforming administrative costs to reducing the time it takes to get a degree. Ohio State has implemented all recommendations in every area except for competency-based education, which does not fit the university’s mission and student body.

Ohio State highlights include:

  • Ohio State invested $312.5 million in student financial aid in fiscal 2018, which includes about $283 million in new endowments created using proceeds of the university’s comprehensive energy management partnership. The total also includes money that the university spent in 2018 on two programs focused on in-state students: $25 million in President’s Affordability Grants and $553,500 to expand the Land Grant Opportunity Scholarship.
  • The university’s operational excellence program, OE@OSU, has saved or avoided $41.2 million in costs in the four years through fiscal 2017. In 2018, the program helped to reduce the largest fleet at the university by 56 vehicles, or about 17 percent.
  • Ohio State’s comprehensive, digital learning initiative is providing students with learning technology, coding and app development opportunities. As part of the Digital Flagship, the university distributed iPads and learning technology kits to more than more than 11,000 incoming first-year students across all campuses. Ohio State is spending more than $11.1 million over four years to provide the technology to students for free. The Digital Flagship, which is a collaboration with Apple, is also accelerating efforts to reduce the cost of textbooks through the support of digital alternatives.
  • In the 2017-2018 academic year, completion grants were awarded to 160 students who were near graduation and in jeopardy of being dropped for non-payment. Each completion grant averaged about $1,000, a one-time amount that allows students to stay in school and work toward completing their degrees.
  • Regional partnerships are also generating savings. The Lima, Mansfield, Marion and Newark campuses have collectively saved $5.4 million through shared services with co- located institutions.

In July, President Michael V. Drake provided written testimony to the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on College Affordability to detail the university’s ongoing efforts to reduce the cost of attending colleges and universities.

“We have committed $100 million in additional need-based aid for Ohio students and families since 2015 — well exceeding our stated goal of reaching that number by 2020 — with an expected impact for almost 32,000 Buckeyes,” he wrote. “At the same time, we have introduced a number of affordability efforts unprecedented in our university’s history.”

Efficiency and affordability are critical areas of focus for Ohio State. Access, Affordability and Excellence and Operational Excellence and Resource Stewardship are two of the five pillars in the university’s Time and Change strategic plan.