Tri-C participates in the Ohio College Comeback Program
Earlier this fall, Cuyahoga Community College began notifying students of the new Ohio College Comeback Program which can forgive up to $5,000 in debt and/or release transcripts with stranded credits. The Program was designed by eight colleges and universities across Northeast Ohio to provide students the opportunity to “come back” to school and resume their education.
“It started with Ithaka, which is a research firm, because they have done research on withholding student transcripts,” said Jennifer Demmerle, vice president of Finance and Business Services for Tri-C. “They talked to the Ohio Department of Education and let them know what they wanted to do, then the eight participating institutions guided the program to determine the eligibility criteria, how much debt to forgive, and other aspects of the program.”
The eight colleges and universities participating in the Program include Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Stark State University, The University of Akron, and Youngstown State University. These institutions already had some type of come back program.
“We got together and said we have a lot of students with debt at our institutions and we want to make it so students can get back to school no matter where they go,” said Heidi Nicholas, executive director of enrollment management operations. “The program provides students the opportunity to go back to their home school or another participating school. We will release the transcripts so students can have a successful transfer.”
To be eligible for debt forgiveness and/or release of stranded credits, a student must:
- Be stopped out for 2 or more terms previous to the comeback
- Have a cumulative 2.0 GPA as of the final term enrolled
- Owe a debt to the Ohio Attorney General collection
- Enroll in one of the participating institutions
Tri-C has other college comeback debt forgiveness programs but, ”students can only participate in one debt forgiveness program,” said Nicholas. The Tri-C College Comeback program is for students who were stopped out in Fall 2019 or earlier. These students can file an academic appeal to regain financial aid eligibility.
The Second Chance Grant program is for students who were academically dismissed from the college. “If a student lost their financial aid, we would give them the opportunity to come back,” said Nicholas. “They could petition for re-admission or file a staff appeal.”
Tri-C has about 2,300 students who are eligible to participate in the Ohio Comeback program and only four students are currently participating. “We decided to do this work because we do not want finances to be a barrier to students getting an education and a job,” said Nicholas.
“For us, we are looking for ways to eliminate this because we know finances are a barrier even though we have low cost tuition. We want students to be able to come back and finish their degree. We have so many students who have a lot of credits and are coming back because of this money. For us this is important work to help students overcome barriers.”
The College will be contacting students via email, social media, text message, and by letter in the spring to notify them of the Ohio College Comeback Program. “All of these things will happen at different times,” said Nicholas. “We want students to have plenty of time to get their business together and participate for Fall 2023.”