The cost of tuition is a concern for many families in Ohio, as well as throughout the country. It is estimated that by the year 2020, nearly two-thirds of jobs in Ohio will require at least an associate’s degree, making the ability to afford a higher education even more critical. Moreover, growing student debt, if not addressed, has the potential to seriously damage the economy.

Obviously, figuring out ways to lower tuition costs at colleges and universities will not be accomplished overnight, nor is it a one-size-fits-all situation. However, I believe the Ohio House has taken an important step in the direction of helping alleviate this concern.

House Bill 384, which passed through the House earlier this year and is now being considered by the Senate, gives the Auditor of State the authority to conduct performance audits of state-run colleges and universities. Performance audits have proven to be an effective way to identify cost-savings and improved efficiencies. Since 2011, performance audits uncovered $77 million in potential savings at public school districts around the state. They have also been tremendously helpful when conducted at state agencies, equating to a $33 return on investment for every dollar in audit costs. So I would expect the same kind of beneficial results to occur at colleges and universities.

A Columbus Dispatch editorial said “it makes sense for Ohio to extend this accounting practice to higher education.” It went on to say that the “escalating costs of a university education cry out for this type of monitoring.”

As I stated earlier, implementing performance audits at institutions of higher learning is just one piece of the puzzle. But I am hopeful that this approach will be a proactive tool to help colleges and universities find ways to operate more efficiently, as well as lead to ways of lowering the costs of earning a degree.

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