COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 20 — Thousands of students who hope to earn associate degrees offered by 37 career colleges across Ohio may not be able to afford to begin or continue with their education. That’s because the new $50.5 billion 2-year state budget signed into law Friday by Governor Ted Strickland eliminates all state financial assistance.
For the past 2 years, the Ohio College Opportunity Grant provided needs-based assistance averaging $2,871 to more than 22,500. Some grants totaled nearly $4,000.
"Eliminating all of their financial assistance will result in disastrous consequences for thousands of career college students and their families," said R. David Rankin, Executive Director of the Ohio Association of Career Colleges and Schools. "Surely, it will further damage Ohio’s still plunging economy. This move is entirely opposite of the Governor’s and Chancellor Fingerhut’s stated goals of helping to educate more students age 25 and older and improving Ohio’s dismal ranking of 38th in the nation for citizens with an associate degree."
While career college students have lost all state assistance, those attending taxpayer-supported and private, non-profit schools will continue to receive money from state government, though at reduced levels. Since January – when Governor Strickland first made his intentions known – career colleges have been arguing their students deserve to be treated the same as all Ohio college students. "Career college students are somehow ‘different’ or less-worthy than students who attend other Ohio colleges?" Mr. Rankin asks.
If "different" is measured as "more successful," outcome-oriented career colleges and the students they graduate certainly are, as compared to all other higher educational institutions in Ohio:
The Ohio Association of Career Colleges and Schools believes student financial assistance should be available to all who qualify based upon financial need. Students should be allowed to use financial assistance to earn a degree at any accredited college in the state, whether a public, private non-profit or career college. Students should have a right to choose whatever college or university they determine is best for each of them.
"We very much understand the dire financial situation that Ohio is suffering through and the state’s need to cut costs," Mr. Rankin acknowledges. "But the data clearly show that financial aid to career college students is not a cost but a solid investment which provides highly positive, measurable returns every year. This draconian cut simply makes no sense."
To understand how this decision affects each student’s current financial assistance situation, the Ohio Association of Career Colleges and School urges students to contact financial aid officers at their schools and suggests they monitor the SaveOCOG.org Web site and Facebook page for updates. (Virtualization)