Student Choice Grant threatened

March 29th, 2007

Recently, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland proposed a plan to reallocate who would receive the Ohio Student Choice Grant (SCG).

Established in 1983, the SCG is a grant given to all residents of the state of Ohio who attend private, non-profit colleges and universities in the state of Ohio. It provides students with an incentive to stay in Ohio and attend a private university. The current amount is $450 per student per semester.

The Governor wants to attach the SCG to the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), which is a need-based grant and will make both the OCOG and the SCG based on need.

“We [John Carroll University] applaud the governor’s interest in helping need-based students attend private colleges and universities, but we object to taking the money to fund that from the Student Choice Grant,” said Associate Vice President for Government & Community Relations Jerry Sheehan.

According to JCU’s current calculations there are almost 2,000 students who will loose this grant if the bill passes. This amounts to between 1.6 and 1.8 million dollars in lost financial aid.

“The university is not in a position to have an extra 1.8 million dollars in financial aid to give out,” Sheehan said.

The main argument that Sheehan cited was that it will not save the state money, it will actually be significantly more costly.

“The SCG represents a $900 state investment into each student at a private university. If students choose to instead attend a public school, it is a large multiple of that $900 for each student,” Sheehan said.

“From an economic standpoint this does not make sense to us, and there is enough money elsewhere in the states budget to keep both the OCOG and the SCG the way they are,” he added.

The University is attempting to take action to see that this newly proposed plan does not pass. Sheehan expressed hope that the Reverend Robert Niehoff will write a letter to the Governor. He is also hoping for student advocacy.

On April 17 the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO) will be advocating against this bill in Columbus, and Sheehan hopes that there will be John Carroll students in attendance. “We cannot make students active, but we will present them with the facts and hope that they decide that they want to be,” he said.

With John Carroll’s new financial aid plan for low-income families, this bill will not give the university nearly as much money in financial aid as they would be getting if the SCG were to stay as it is currently structured. There is a far less percentage of students that will be attending the University on need-based merit than there will be of Ohio residents who simply choose a private education at John Carroll.

“This makes private colleges and universities in Ohio less competitive for Ohio residents,” Sheehan said. “If we want to keep people in private schools in Ohio we ought to keep the SCG. It is very effective and should be continued. That’s the way it is.”