Higher education is good for individuals and their families, but also for the economy as a whole, Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro pointed out in a recent speech. But like so many good things, it comes at a price some people simply cannot afford.
Only about 26 percent of Ohio residents hold bachelor's degrees, Petro noted in a speech at Ohio State University. That compares to an average of 31 percent for the nation as a whole.
College and university graduates usually earn more than those who lack higher education. That helps them and their families and can have a dramatic impact on a state's economy, Petro said in urging Ohio's college-going rate be increased.
"For every percent we move up, it means economic activity growing the next year and for each year thereafter (by) $2.5 billion," Petro said.
While some have questioned Petro's estimate, it probably is not far off the mark. Simply calculating the additional money college graduates earn, then put back into the economy makes that clear.
But again, it is becoming increasingly difficult for high school graduates to afford higher education. At OSU, for example, average tuition and fees for in-state students have reached $9,711 a year. Include living expenses and the cost of going to the university reaches $22,365 a year.
Many parents of college students didn't spend as much on their homes as their children will have to come up with to earn bachelor's degrees.
And while a four-year education once meant four years in college, an increasing number of students take five or even six years to earn their bachelor's degrees.
Petro is right. More Ohioans with higher education degrees would help them and the state's economy.
But colleges and universities bear a large part of the burden of making that happen, by making higher education more affordable.