Ohio State seeks to drop hundreds of fees, offer discount digital textbooks

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 30: A general view of the Ohio State Buckeyes logo on the exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during practice prior to the 2012 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament on March 30, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A plan being presented to The Ohio State University Board of Trustees calls for the elimination of 278 different course fees, provides discount digital textbooks and waives costs when students take a heavy course load.

The university estimates the measures will save students around $1.9 million per year.

“We are working hard to create savings for students, make costs more predictable and create increased opportunities for families across our state and nation,” President Michael V. Drake said in a news release.

In the initiatives being proposed this week, the university plans to:

  • Eliminate 278 course fees, which pay for educational costs such as laboratory sessions or specialized materials. The proposal would eliminate 70 percent of all course fees, benefitting thousands of students across a range of disciplines. Fees that remain cover third-party costs, such as first-aid training, or are in disciplines that rely heavily on laboratories as part of their educational requirements (biology, chemistry and physics).
  • Pilot a new strategy to deliver digital textbooks that cost up to 80 percent less than traditional textbooks. In the “inclusive access” pilot, students in nine College of Social Work courses would pay $24 to $74 for digital textbooks that would cost $128 to $400 as traditional texts, for example. The university plans to expand the use of the inclusive access model in future years.
  • Allow students who take heavy academic loads to waive the cost of additional credit hours if they are doing so to complete their degrees or to take advantage of internships or research opportunities. Students can take up to 18 credit hours at the university’s full-time tuition rate, but students may take up to a maximum of 21 credit hours per term. For eligible students who obtain the approval of their academic advisors, these waivers would provide savings of more than $400 per additional credit hour.
  • Expand the university’s support of military families by applying in-state tuition regardless of a student’s residency. Ohio State already extends in-state rates to military families in most circumstances, but the intersection of federal rules, state law and university policy has created some exceptions that affect about two dozen students each semester. The new policy will clarify that active members of the military, veterans and their immediate family members (spouses and children) are to be granted in-state status.

“We explore every opportunity that will help advance access to a more affordable Buckeye education,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron.

The four new initiatives would become effective in spring 2019 if approved by the board.