[OC] Working Through College Appears Unrealistic at Miami

By Peter Fortunato, Editor

While I personally cannot relate to this situation, for Ohio high school seniors who must pay for college themselves, Miami University does not look like an attractive option. 

In order to pay for Miami’s 2019-2020 in-state tuition and fees bill of $15,909, a student would need to work about 35.8 hours a week for the entire year if they were making minimum wage. That would be on top of the roughly 15 hours of class they would have to attend each week. And this wouldn’t even cover room & board, textbooks, laundry, parking (if they decided to forego living on campus), technology fees, as well as any other fee that may arise due to their coursework.

Everyone understands that college is expensive. But for those whose parents pay for college, they can’t appreciate the effort one must endure in order to be able to obtain a degree.

This phenomena is part of a larger trend in which it’s becoming increasingly impossible for students to work their way through college. In 2015, Forbes ran an article highlighting a report from Georgetown University that found that “working through college is no longer an option to offset growing debt.”

The graph I produced seems to confirm the results of the Georgetown report, at least regarding Miami University.

But when one considers community college or branch regional campuses of state universities, working through college becomes feasible. If Miami wants to understand why lower-income high school graduates aren’t choosing to go here, it’s because they can get a better deal somewhere else.

The data I collected is courtesy of The Chronicle of Higher Education. They have an interactive data set that displays figures for tuition and fees for almost all institutions of higher education in the United States. However, the data only goes back to Fall 1998. So rather than finding for each university’s tuition figures dating back to 1980 (which is what I was able to find for Miami), I decided to start all of the other trend lines at 1998.

I also gathered 2019-2020 tuition and fees figures for 4-year public universities by going to each of their websites and recording the figures given on their “Tuition & Fees” page.

For this graph, I compared four subjects. The first was the cost of tuition at Miami University from 1980 to present.

The second was the average cost of tuition and fees (from 1998-2019) for all of the other 4-year public research universities in Ohio, which includes Ohio State University, Ohio University, University of Cincinnati, Kent State University, Bowling Green State University, University of Toledo, University of Akron, Wright State University, Cleveland State University, Youngstown State University, Shawnee State University, and Central State University.

Thirdly, I averaged the cost of tuition and fees (from 1998-2018) for the branch regional campuses of the 4-year public research universities, which includes BGSU Firelands, KSU Ashtabula, KSU East Liverpool, KSU Geauga, KSU Salem, KSU Stark, KSU Trumbull, KSU Tuscarawas, Miami Hamilton, Miami Middletown, OSU Agricultural Tech, OSU Lima, OSU Mansfield, OSU Marion, OSU Newark, OU Chillicothe, OU Eastern, OU Lancaster, OU Southern, OU Zanesville, Akron Wayne, UC Clermont, UC Blue Ash, and WSU Lake.

And finally, I averaged the cost of tuition and fees (from 1998-2018) for community colleges in Ohio, which includes Belmont College, Central Ohio Tech, Cincinnati State CC, Clark State CC, Columbus State CC, Cuyahoga CC, Eastern Gateway CC, Edison State CC, Hocking College, Lakeland CC, Rhodes State, Lorain County CC, Marion Tech, North Central State, Northwest State CC, Owens CC, Sinclair CC, Southern State CC, Stark State, Terra State CC, Washington State CC, and Zane State.

I omitted the following schools from this study: Northeast Ohio Medical University (because I felt its coursework was too niche), Miami Voice of America Learning Center (undergraduates take classes at Miami Middletown and Miami Hamilton; only graduates take classes here), and Rio Grande Community College (their tuition data was not included in the Chronicle’s dataset).

For anyone with questions on methodology, data collection, or on any other matter, feel free to contact me directly at fortunp2@miamioh.edu.

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