A Republican budget amendment could cost Ohio University up to $12 million in lost out-of-state tuition, or otherwise make it more difficult for some college students to vote in Athens. The proposal pits these two interests against each other in the Ohio House’s substitute budget bill that has passed the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives chamber and is now under consideration by the state Senate. The provision mandates that an institution of higher learning must charge in-state tuition to any student to whom it provides a letter or utility bill that can be shown to prove residency and vote in Ohio.
Under current law, a student must live in Ohio for 30 days in order to be able to vote. In order to get in-state tuition, though, a student must live in the state for 12 consecutive months.
A student ID is not an acceptable form of identification at the polls, so university students can and do request calculated utility bills or letters from the institutions to confirm residency for the purpose of voting.
The language of the Republican House proposal, however, states that the chancellor for determining student residency “shall grant residency to a student to whom a state institution of higher learning issues a letter or utility bill for use as proof that the student is a qualified elector in this state.”
In a second paragraph, however, it states that this determination will not extend beyond the tuition impact. “Nothing (this) division of this section shall be used to grant residency to a student for any purpose other than for state subsidy and tuition surcharge purposes.”
This means that residency for tuition purposes and voting purposes would now be the same – 30 days – but otherwise wouldn’t apply to any other circumstance.