June 7, 2023
The Ohio State House of Representatives passed a higher education bill last week to ensure that colleges are transparent in their communications about the cost of their degree programs and the returns their graduates can expect on that investment.
Ohio House Bill 27, which passed by a vote of 88 to 1 Thursday, would require public colleges and universities in the state to send admitted students who qualify for financial aid a one-page “financial cost and aid disclosure form” in their aid packets. The form would offer a full breakdown of the net cost of a degree, including the expected duration of the student’s financial aid package, a clear definition of grants versus loans, and the minimum monthly loan payments required of the student after graduating. It would also mandate that institutions share with admitted students postgraduation data on outcomes.
Ohio representative Adam Mathews, the bill’s principal author and sponsor, said he brought the legislation forward for two reasons: to encourage students to apply to Ohio colleges by showing their affordability, and to identify programs that might cost students more than they’re likely to earn back in a future career.
“We want to make sure that students know what they’re paying and how their financial aid continues to support them through their educational journey,” Mathews, a Republican, told Inside Higher Ed. “It’s important for institutions to be up front about this.”
According to a 2022 report from the Government Accountability Office, 91 percent of colleges understate the total cost of their degrees, and 65 percent omit critical details about aid packages. Another 31 percent reportedly list loans as grants, leading students to wrongly conclude they don’t require repayment.