An editorial in the Marion Star on Dec. 21, 2013
Nearly two years ago, a cavalcade of hopeful state legislators paraded before voters and talked of ways to better provide access to high-quality college education throughout Ohio.
They touted it as a way to help businesses across the state get stronger and to help put educated and skilled workers back to work in The Buckeye State.
A perfect way to get that education and obtain a marketable skill is the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, which gives a student who qualifies $1,000 in performance-based grant money per semester.
Well, unless, you’re a community college or regional campus student …
Since 2009 (when the state had to make necessary cuts), those students have been ineligible for need-based state aid — the only segment of higher-education students that is still ineligible.
In the last few years, other sectors have had their OCOG funding restored, including private schools. But today, no action has been taken to restore the funding at the community college level.
That’s not much of an opportunity. In fact, it’s patently unfair and has to change.
With that in mind, why aren’t those same people — elected by voters two years ago and many of them already committed to seek re-election next year — working to restore state aid to students who attend community colleges and regional campuses?
It’s a growing segment of the population — some studies show nearly half of all undergraduate students nationwide attending community college — and many employers are looking for the skills that a community college education can deliver.
Some sources put the cost to restore the funding at about $20 million, which we will admit is not a drop in the bucket.
But, with the state doing better, it’s time to restore fairness to the opportunity grant system. It’s time for our elected leaders to put their money where their campaign slogans were.