- Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the state’s public colleges to tell admitted students how much they can expect to earn post-graduation and to estimate students’ monthly loan payments.
- The bill, passed by the state’s House of Representatives last week, would also require colleges to show incoming full-time students how much their education will cost, including tuition, room and board, and fees.
- The federal government already requires colleges to post their costs online through net price calculators. But the new bill would mandate that Ohio’s public colleges send this information directly to students as part of their initial financial aid packets.
Ohio lawmakers are mulling over the bill, HB 27, as concerns mount nationwide about rising college costs and the value of higher education. The proposal sailed through the state’s House, with only one lawmaker opposing it, and is now being considered by the Senate.
Earnings estimates would be based on the incomes of a public institution’s recent graduates. Admitted students with declared majors would also receive income ranges for graduates who had the same majors.
The Ohio measure echoes similar bills pending in Congress. Earlier this year, federal lawmakers reintroduced a bipartisan proposal to improve net price calculators offered by colleges. The online tools are meant to provide students with individualized information about financial aid and college expenses.
Although colleges have been required to post these calculators on their websites since 2011, they’ve been dogged by complaints that they can be inaccurate and hard to find.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have pitched legislation that would require colleges to use standardized terms in their financial aid offers and include information about direct and indirect college costs, as well as options for paying for them.
The proposal comes after a 2022 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that colleges aren’t clearly communicating their costs and aid packages to students. Through an analysis of a nationally representative sample of 176 colleges, the GAO discovered that 91% were understating their net price or not including the information in financial aid offers.
The Ohio Association of Community Colleges referenced the GAO findings in written testimony supporting the bill.
“HB 27 will make Ohio a leader in cost transparency and ROI by requiring public institutions provide clear, standardized costs, financial aid information, and earning potential for graduates in declared career paths,” Jack Hershey, president of the group, wrote in the testimony.
However, a nonpartisan legislative analysis of the Ohio bill acknowledges it may increase administrative costs for the state’s public institutions, depending on how much of the required information they collect already.
In testimony on behalf of the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors, Stephen Mockabee, professor at the University of Cincinnati, said “unfunded mandates” like the new proposal were “eating up scarce resources.”
Mockabee pointed to spending on noninstructional areas and state divestment in higher education as the “driving forces behind higher costs for students.”
“While we appreciate the intent of HB 27, there is a much larger issue of state support for higher education and a refocus on the educational missions of our institutions that must be examined,” Mockabee wrote.