Advocates Want Comm. College Students Eligible For Grant

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Community colleges around Ohio say their students are missing out on the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, or OCOG.(Photo: WOSU composite)
Community colleges around Ohio say their students are missing out on the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, or OCOG.(Photo: WOSU composite)

A group advocating for community colleges is putting the spotlight on a grant that’s available to some higher education students but not others. The advocates say that the money should be going to students who need help, not matter what school they attend.

The Ohio Association of Community Colleges says there’s a disparity when it comes to student financial aid. The Ohio College Opportunity Grant, also known as OCOG, is available to four-year public and private college students but not two-year community college students.

Karen Refinski, interim president of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges, says this has been the case since 2009 and each year more than 20,000 students are missing out on financial support.

The association is asking the General Assembly to expand the grant to these two-year students, which could cost an additional $20 million a year.

Refinski says, in many cases, two-year, community college students are already in tough financial situations and could use the extra help. Especially since, in Refinski’s words, they already made the fiscally wise decision to attend a community college.

“Often times they’re raising families and kids—they have needs—and their dollar just has to be stretched further. That’s why 45% of the nation starts at these places.”

Some lawmakers proposed expanding the grant through this past budget, but just missed the cut. The Ohio Association of Community Colleges believes that’s a positive sign that they are gaining momentum and support on the issue.

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