Apr 25, 2022 - News

Ohio will give $2K to college dropouts who re-enroll

An overview of Columbus State Community College with the city skyline in the background

Columbus State Community College with a city skyline backdrop. Photo courtesy of CSCC

Former Ohio college students have an assured incentive to re-enroll and finish their degrees under a sweeping new higher education bill that Gov. Mike DeWine has signed into law.

Driving the news: The measure makes permanent a "second chance" program, piloted last year, that awards one-time $2,000 state grants to Ohioans returning to a college, university or technical center within five years of dropping out, as long as they left in good academic standing.

  • Credits from community colleges will also be guaranteed to transfer to state universities, allowing for a more seamless transition to obtaining bachelor's degrees.

Why it matters: The changes could encourage more Ohioans to pursue higher education in an era of declining enrollment across the state's nearly 100 public and private universities.

  • Making degrees from Ohio colleges more affordable and accessible could also bolster our state's workforce and ward off "brain drain" to other states.
Percentage change in Ohio college enrollment estimates, by spring semester
Data: National Student Clearinghouse; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Details: The wide-ranging Senate Bill 135, approved almost unanimously and signed into law last Thursday, takes effect July 20.

  • It requires that state universities provide a breakdown of tuition costs on a state website.
  • It forbids charging more for online courses than in-person classes.
  • It specifies that universities can't prioritize out-of-state applicants, who pay higher tuition, over equally qualified in-state applicants.

Separately, the bill included some Republican priorities, including an order that universities abstain from working with entities that have boycotted Israel over its conflict with Palestine.

  • It also requires they adopt policies affirming a slate of free speech principles and a formal complaint process for students who suspect a violation.
  • Critics called the second point redundant, noting that a law on the topic already exists, spurred by a number of revoked invitations of conservative speakers at universities.

What they're saying: Columbus State Community College president David Harrison testified as an early supporter of the access initiatives, noting that his school serves a diverse group of Central Ohioans.

  • "First-generation students, low-income students, students of color, adults in transition and armed forces veterans thrive in our environment,” he said. “These are the very students who are the solution to the workforce problem our state is facing."

💰 Our take: Despite rising tuition costs across the country, community colleges offer more bang for your buck. A $2,000 grant pays for nearly a full semester at Columbus State.


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