Career College Students to Rally at Ohio Statehouse

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 19 /PRNewswire/ — First, the governor slashed their college grants by more than half. Then, majority Democrats in the House of Representatives chopped state support again – a total cut of 81% – setting up each student to lose thousands of dollars and their opportunity to graduate and get a job.

Hundreds of students earning associate degrees from career colleges will rally at the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday at a protest sponsored by the Ohio Association of Career Colleges and Schools. They’re hoping state senators restore their grants, state representatives will agree to a "re-boost," and the governor will agree to lawmakers’ decisions before he must sign into law the state’s budget bill (by July 1).

The average age of Ohio’s career college students is 26. 70% are women; 30% are African American. They know if they can keep their grant assistance to finish college, 80% will get well-paying jobs within 90 days of graduation, usually right in or near their home towns.

"This cuts bad to the bone," said Youngstown student Paul McCartney, a 38-year-old father of 4 studying information systems engineering. "These cuts will make it so much tougher for so many – I work a job and then go to school with a bunch of students who might not to be able to finish college. And none of us can afford to go deeper into debt by taking out more student loans."

McCartney is one of more than 22,000 career college students currently receiving state financial assistance to earn associate degrees. The average grant is $2,252. That amount has now been slashed to $417, as the bill emerged from the House of Representatives.

Student grant reductions that cut "bad to the bone" is a theme McCartney, other coalition leaders and hundreds of students from all over Ohio will rally around Wednesday. Their message: restore college tuition assistance so students can earn degrees and go to work – quickly.

Some students will be wearing mortarboards with custom-inked messages on their tops to lawmakers and the governor. They’ll receive mock diplomas, with a faked rubber stamp from the Chancellor of the Board of Regents. "Cancelled," the stamp advises. "Sorry…"

The noon rally is scheduled to follow testimony by the Ohio Association of Career Colleges and Schools to the Senate Finance committee. Student McCartney will explain to lawmakers why state grants are critical for everyone in Ohio – especially older students – so they may continue to afford a college education.

Jim Underwood of Underwood & Associates, a research firm commissioned by the state association, will tell senators that career colleges graduate students with associate degrees at a rate 2.5 times better than do state-supported community colleges. Noting that Ohio ranks 38th in the number of citizens with associate degrees, he’ll ask, "Where is the wisdom of the state taking funds away from the very students attending the very institutions that have the best record of producing graduates…?" Others hope to be scheduled to provide testimony also.

Please see www.SaveOCOG.org and the coalition’s Facebook page for more information. (PR Newswire)

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