Erin Bowen

Governor Ted Strickland’s recent budget proposal will make students attending for-profit schools ineligible to receive financial assistance through the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), a scholarship grant previously available to all of Ohio’s residential college students.

For-profit institutions or proprietary schools, run by profit organizations rather than religious organizations or state or local government, are also commonly called career colleges, business colleges, institutes or for-profit colleges. The Ohio Board of Regents, a coordinating board dedicated to the continuation and promotion of higher education, includes ITT Technical Institute, Southern Ohio College, and ACA College of Design as examples of proprietary schools.

In defense of Governor Ted Strickland’s revamped budget, Keith Dailey, press secretary for the governor, said sacrifices are necessary when adjusting a budget.

“The budget requires tough choices that must be made in order to invest resources in the things that matter most to Ohioans,” Dailey said.

The proposed budget, however, will not impact Miami University scholarships or state financial aid, according to Ellie Houde, assistant director of Student Financial Assistance at Miami.

“This change would not affect Miami students as it only cuts funding for students who attend profit schools,” Houde said. “Since Miami is public, our students would continue to receive funding.”

Dailey said further that the educational budget in Ohio is the slowest growing budget, meaning it develops the least amount of revenue.

“The budget is limited in resources and revenue growth is essentially flat,” Dailey said.

Dailey said further that a reexamination of the distribution of funds is required because the educational budget receives the least amount of income. This leads to a cut in the budget.

According to a report released by the Ohio Board of Regents, the OCOG is a need-based scholarship that provides tuition for Ohio students from low to moderate-income families with a combined annual income of less that $75,000.

Bret Crow, assistant director of communication for the Ohio Board of Regents, said the aim of the grant is to increase higher education among Ohio residents. Crow also said for the 2006-07 school year, students attending public universities could receive a maximum of $2,496; $3,996 at proprietary schools; and $4,992 at private universities.

Strickland’s proposal, however, would eliminate proprietary students from the equation in order to encourage students to pursue bachelor’s degrees instead of associate degrees or diplomas gained from proprietary schools, according to Dailey.

Charles Shahid, director of the Ohio Board of Regents, said that during the 2006-07 school year, a large number of students in proprietary schools received funds.

“(A) total of 13,922 proprietary school students received $32,930,263 in Ohio grant funds,” Shahid said.

Dailey said the OCOG would continue to provide for an estimated 100,000 middle-income students, not enrolled in proprietary schools.

Responding to Governor Strickland’s proposed budget changes, 8th District Congressman John Boehner (R-Ohio) discussed the negative repercussions for Ohio students.

A statement from Boehner, released by press secretary Jessica R. Towhey, said he is disappointed that a threat looms over certain students wanting to attend college. In the same press statement, Boehner said he disagrees that Strickland’s budget reflects a commitment to students. He said Strickland’s proposal to drastically cut funding for the Ohio Choice Grants program will severely limit students’ choices and is counterproductive to what’s been done on the federal side.

Strickland, however, remains committed to higher education, according to Dailey.

“The governor is committed to increasing the number of Ohioans with a college degree to 230,000 and increasing the graduation rate by 20 percent over the next 10 years,” Dailey said.

Despite the possible effects of Strickland’s budget proposal on students at proprietary schools, Dailey said the governor understands the importance of education.

“Governor Strickland believes that every Ohio student should have the opportunity for higher education,” Daily said.