Forever Buckeyes Welcomes Ohioans Home 2

“Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye” was the thinking of the Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly the Ohio Board of Regents) and the Ohio General Assembly when they created the Forever Buckeyes program in 2011.

Forever Buckeyes is a provision within the budget of Fiscal Year 2012-2013 that extended the in-state tuition rate to graduates of any public or private Ohio high school who relocate and then return to Ohio, establish residency, and enroll at a public institution of higher education. The program only applies to students who were Ohio residents at the time of their high school graduation. The program does not apply to students who received GEDs.

Forever Buckeyes eliminates the yearlong time frame that it typically takes to establish residency (for purposes of receiving in-state tuition) and applies in-state tuition rates to these students on their first day of class. The Forever Buckeyes initiative welcomes home former residents who joined the military and return to make Ohio their home, students who went to school out of state and return to complete a graduate degree, or students who went out of state to start a degree but who later decide to return to Ohio to complete their degree. The Forever Buckeyes initiative applies to both graduate and undergraduate degrees.

Forever Buckeyes background

Forever Buckeyes can trace its roots back to the release of the Strategic Plan for Higher Education, which was created by then-Chancellor Fingerhut in 2008. The program was meant to help the State of Ohio grow and prosper by raising the education level of its population. As stated on page 9 of the Strategic Plan, “The goal of this 10-year strategic plan is to raise the educational attainment of our state each year, and to close the gap between Ohio and competitor states and nations. To accomplish this goal we must do three things: 1. Graduate more students. 2. Keep more of our graduates in Ohio. 3. Attract more degree holders from out of state.”

When the new Governor and new Chancellor took office in 2011, Ohio was in slow recovery from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. The new Chancellor, Jim Petro, wanted to leverage higher education as a development tool to spur economic growth.

“If our economy is to grow, we must do everything can to attract and retain students of all ages to Ohio,” said Chancellor Petro.

To attract the former students back home, Ohio eliminated the year it would take returning residents to establish residency to receive in-state college tuition. The Forever Buckeyes initiative would also play into Chancellor Petro’s Complete College Ohio Report, which aimed to “increase the percentage of Ohio adults with a degree or certificate,” by lowering the financial burden for students returning to Ohio to earn a degree or certificate.  A figure released by the Board of Regents said that, "for every percent we move up (in number of Ohioans with bachelor’s degrees), it means economic activity growing the next year and for each year thereafter (by) $2.5 billion dollars.” 

Cost savings with in-state tuition

The cost to attend a public college or university in the state of Ohio varies depending on the institution and so does the cost difference between in-state tuition and out of state tuition. The difference is called the nonresident surcharge. The surcharge can vary by as little as $30 for a small community college or as much as $20,000 a year for a more expensive university. Nonresident surcharges are applied to both graduate and undergraduate education and are added onto the tuition amount.  

Comparison of several Ohio universities tuition expenses


Tuition In-State Undergraduate*

Tuition Surcharge Undergraduate

Tuition In-State Graduate School**

Tuition Surcharge Graduate School

Bowling Green - Main





Miami – Main





Ohio State – Main










Cincinnati State CC**





Owens CC**





Rhodes State College**





Washington State CC**





Forever Buckeyes has the potential to save returning Ohioans a substantial amount of money. When looking to reestablish residency, for the sake of tuition, it is best to talk with a residency officer at the institution to which you are applying. Here’s a link to school-specific information for many schools in the Forever Buckeyes program.

While everyone’s path to their education may be different, one thing is certain: Ohio’s tax-free 529 Plan is the simple and portable way to pay for higher education, nationwide. Ohio’s 529 Plan also wants you to know that you can come home again.

*Based on weighted averages supplied by ODHE for 2018-2019 academic year

**Based on information provided by the institutions’ website for 2018-2019 academic year

Back To Top