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Ohio university offers former students path back to higher education with new 'isolated credit program'

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Eight colleges, including Cleveland State University and Cuyahoga Community College, are helping former college students in northeastern Ohio complete their degrees with a new initiative, the Ohio College Comeback Compact.

Funded by non-profits such as the Lumina Foundation, Kresge Foundation and Joyce Foundation, the initiative is a collaboration of eight institutions, Ithaka S+R and the non-profit academic research and consulting firm, College Now Greater Cleveland. . and the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Universities participating in the Ohio College Comeback Compact include Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, Kent State University, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Stark State University, Akron University, and Youngstown State University .

What are “stranding credits”?

Stranded credits are credits that a student has earned but is unable to access due to outstanding balances with previous schools that hold transcripts as collateral. Ithaka S+R’s senior program Liz Looker, her manager, says it can be a big stumbling block even for former college students.

“Many of these students owe money to their former schools,” she said. “In some cases, debt may prevent students from accessing their transcripts.”

Without official transcripts, many students often find it difficult to continue their education.

In Ohio, about 60,000 people in Northeast Ohio have lost their credit, according to data from a 2020 survey by Ithaca S+R.

With the U.S. education debt now at $1.7 trillion and continuing to grow exponentially, many former post-secondary students, especially black students, are looking to improve their lives and hopefully their career prospects. It is no exaggeration to say that we initially took on a large amount of debt in order to improve our business. Instead, it has become a financial stumbling block.

For students who never had the opportunity to complete a post-secondary education program and therefore failed to qualify for the opportunities they needed to earn enough careers and incomes to justify going into debt, this Especially serious.

Looker hopes the compact will not only reassure former students, but put them back on the path to education.

“This compact is the first of its kind,” she said. “Students are benefiting from this program as it puts them back on track to complete their degrees. Institutions can benefit from increased enrollment.”

how does that work?

Eligible students interested in continuing their education either at their original university or at another compact college or university will meet with an advisor to discuss their options.

Once enrolled, students even have a chance to qualify for debt forgiveness of up to $5,000, Looker said.

To receive funds for debt relief, a student must complete at least one semester during which time their previous college forgives up to $2,500 in debt (or complete two semesters or You can get a waiver of up to $5,000 by earning a degree or certificate.)

Once the debt has been written off in full, the student’s former school will issue a transcript.

“This will help significantly reduce or eliminate the debt that students owe,” she said.

Admissions and eligibility information can be accessed on the official website of the Ohio College Comeback Compact,