By Molly Burdette
YSU Assistant Director, Degree Completion and Credentialing Facilitator
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Youngstown State University is excited to be part of the Ohio College Comeback Compact. This program has the potential to impact tens of thousands of former college students in Northeastern Ohio who left school without a degree and owe money to their former colleges, by starting a pathway back to settle their debts and continue their education.
Eligible students who would like to continue their education at YSU or one of the seven other institutions will meet with advisers to consider their options. Students will be required to take a minimum of two classes (six semester hours) and earn at least a 2.0 GPA that semester. After those classes are successfully completed, up to $2,500 will be forgiven from the debts they owe. This can be done again for a second semester, forgiving up to $5,000 of debt in total.
To be eligible for this program, students must have been enrolled in one of the participating institutions at least two terms before the semester they want to come back and not enrolled at any other institution. Students need to owe less than $5,000 to one of the participating institutions and the debt must be certified to the Office of the Attorney General and not assigned to a special counsel. This debt cancellation can be done only once. Checking eligibility takes only a few minutes and can be done by visiting OhioCollegeComeback.org/eligibility-check.
Any money owed directly to the institution is eligible for forgiveness. This can include tuition, housing costs, library fines, parking tickets, etc. Federal or state loans, loans to private lenders, and debt owed to other colleges and universities, are not eligible for this forgiveness program.
The eight institutions involved in the program are: YSU, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, the University of Akron, Cuyahoga Community College, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College and Stark State College.
Students can return to their original institutions or attend one of the other compact institutions and can change, or continue with, their prior major when they start back. As long as students are enrolled in an associate, bachelor or certificate program, they may be eligible. By enrolling in the Ohio College Comeback Compact, students can use financial aid, including federal grants and loans, if available.
After confirming eligibility, students must sign a participation agreement outlining the qualifying activities, complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), meet with the College Comeback contact person at their institutions as well as an academic adviser, and pay for the semester for which they are registering. Payment options include federal financial aid, scholarships, and payments made as a one-time payment or through a YSU payment plan. Debt forgiveness occurs after successful completion of the semester.
Former YSU students meeting the same qualifying requirements as the College Comeback Compact, who are on a YSU payment agreement and not under the attorney general, can also have up to $5,000 of their debts forgiven. If this is the case, the students will be able to come back to YSU, take a minimum of two classes (six semester hours), earn C’s or better, and have $2,500 of debt to YSU forgiven. Doing this for two semesters will equate to up to $5,000 of debt being forgiven.
This is an exciting opportunity for students to get back into school, clear their debts, and finish their degrees.
“Providing better pathways to help students finish their studies and reach their potential is a major priority at Youngstown State University and our partner universities and community colleges throughout the region,” says YSU President Jim Tressel. “The Ohio College Comeback program’s potential impact on the region’s students, institutions, and economy is great and truly needed.”