DOE Allows Free College Benefit Program for Eastern Gateway

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio- Eastern Gateway Community College will continue to offer its Free College benefit program for the fall 2022 semester after discussions yesterday between the U.S. Department of Education and EGCC President Michael Geoghegan.

Jeremy Early, the U.S. Department of Education Midwest Division Chief for the Federal Student Aid program, and Geoghegan spoke late Monday afternoon, according to a press release from EGCC.

“The college is thrilled to announce that EGCC can continue to offer the Free College Benefit for new and existing students for the fall 2022 semester,” Geoghegan said. “I want to credit the work of our union partners for always advocating for their members and the families who they represent.”

The Department of Education issued a cease and desist directive last week that prohibited EGCC from distributing Pell grant funding under the Free College Benefit program.  The DOE cited concerns related to EGCC’s program as part of a federal financial aid review.

During the call on Monday, Early said that EGCC could continue to disburse Pell grants and continue the Free College Benefit for Fall 2022. President Geoghegan is scheduled to meet with the Department of Education on Wednesday, but the division chief informed President Geoghegan on the call that the Department of Education did not want to wait for the Wednesday meeting due to the Fall start in two weeks.

EGCC is continuing fall enrollment for the Free College program with the fall semester starting on August 15th. The college will follow up with an update on Wednesday after the meeting.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.