Melissa Tacchi, For The Miami Student

Because of the continued educational success of the Ohio university system, including increasing enrollment and graduation rates, the state has been chosen to test a new program aimed to prepare community college students for universities. (SAMANTHA LUDINGTON | The Miami Student)

Miami University and Ohio public colleges are predicting an increase in enrollment and graduation rates for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Miami University admission counselors have already received confirmation from 2,380 students for the upcoming fall semester, a 30 percent increase from the number recorded last year at this time, according to Ann Bader, senior admission counselor.

“Last year we were a few hundred short of what we expected,” Bader said. “Because of the economy and a lack of scholarship and financial aid, the enrollment numbers dropped, but we readjusted financial aid and rewards this year in hopes of building a class of 3,500.”

The Ohio Board of Regents is also crediting financial adjustments for the recent enrollment and graduation increases across the state.

In the fall of 2009, Gov. Ted Strickland “held a line” on tuition increases in order to “make higher education more affordable in Ohio,” according to the Ohio Board of Regents.

Since then, 44,627 more students have been enrolled in Ohio colleges and universities.

The tuition freeze was only one of the many efforts that contributed to the recent increase in enrollment rates, according to Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.

“We felt it was important to expand the number of transfer credits at every institution to make it easier for students who change schools,” Fingerhut said. “We are also making efforts to create a common calendar across the Ohio university system for the same reason.”

Graduation rates have also shown promise as they have progressed by a few thousand heads every year, Fingerhut said. However, the results of the enrollment increases are not expected to surface for a few more years.

“The first step in Gov. Strickland’s strategic plan is to increase the number of graduates,” Fingerhut said. “Following such a success, we hope to keep our graduates here while continuously attracting out-of-state graduates to Ohio.”

Some students are concerned that Gov. Strickland’s plan may not be targeted for out-of-state students.

“While I admire Gov. Strickland’s efforts to improve college affordability, I feel that the benefits are mainly geared towards in-state students,” Miami University sophomore Michael Gorkin said. “I am from out-of-state and my tuition has not reached a ceiling.”

The plan has also affected enrollment rates in community colleges. In 2008, the in-state population in these colleges reached 97 percent, according to the Ohio Board of Regents. Because of the number of in-state students, they are often the focus of tuition regulations.

“The line that was placed on tuition increases commonly caters to undergraduate in-state students,” Fingerhut said.

Accompanied by the Ohio Board of Regents, Gov. Strickland intends to continuously implement affordability policies, Fingerhut said.

Successfully increasing enrollment and graduation rates are vital stepping-stones in their efforts to inspire the economy, Fingerhut said.

“We hope to drive economic prosperity in Ohio through the growth of our education system,” he said. “We must develop an educated workforce in order to create business expansion.”

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