The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Randy Gardner announced on May 12, 2021 that he has issued formal guidance to Ohio’s public colleges and universities allowing for the creation of a voluntary program that would offer student debt relief in exchange for re-enrollment. The guidance, branded as "College Comeback," would enable institutions to follow the example of public institutions who already offer these opportunities. Those known to currently offer student debt relief options include Cleveland State University, Clark State College, Lorain County Community College, Stark State College, and Zane State College.
The guidance issued by the Chancellor clearly explains the legal authority by which Ohio’s public colleges and universities may offer debt relief for re-enrolling students who are successfully progressing toward degree or credential completion.
“We know there are too many students who completed a portion of their higher education journey, but ultimately never made it across the finish line. Creating opportunities for these individuals to finish what they started is critical to Ohio’s workforce and economic strength,” Chancellor Gardner said. “With our College Comeback guidance, the DeWine-Husted administration is sending a clear signal that we support colleges and universities that take pro-student steps to reengage students who have some college but no degree.”
The detailed College Comeback guidance outlines the critical need to help 1.5 million Ohioans who have some college, but no degree or credential. Among the barriers to re-enrollment for some students are past-due debts that block their ability to receive their transcript – which itself is a requirement for re-enrollment with credit for previous work. Today’s guidance addresses this issue by clarifying opportunities to overcome this barrier, for institutions that choose to participate.
The College Comeback guidance is posted online at https://www.ohiohighered.org/college-comeback.