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A group advocates for the expansion of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant
The tuition grant program is available to four-year public and private college students, but not two-year community college students

Andy Chow
Karen Rafinski says that more than 20,000 students are missing out on financial support each year.
Courtesy of Ohio Association of Community Colleges
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In The Region:

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 tell Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow that the money should be going to students who need help, not matter what school they attend.

LISTEN: The Ohio Association of Community Colleges wants to expand the Ohio College Opportunity Grant

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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 Ohio lawmakers to expand the grant to two-year students, which could cost an additional $20 million a year.

Refinski says, in many cases, 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 percent of the nation starts at these places.”

Some lawmakers proposed expanding the grant in the budget passed this summer, 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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