Choosing not to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a key barrier to college participation.
In just four years, the support by companies for its employees' advanced education on line has shriveled by nearly half.
Institutional awards at Ohio independent colleges are the largest, and still growing, part of student financial aid grants, now surpassing $1 1/4 billion annually.
Thanks to an increased appropriation and better usage analysis, awards in the need-based Ohio College Opportunity Grant program will increase by 9.3 percent next academic year.
Ohio public and independent 4-year colleges and universities have for years had about the same percentage of their undergraduate student bodies receiving need-based federal student aid grants.
Ohio public universities are increasingly resorting to institutional grants to attract first-year students.
Despite increases in allocation and expenditures, state aid to students attending Ohio independent colleges and universities is just half of what it was in 2006-07.
A similar pattern holds for each sector individually, whether public, nonprofit, for-profit, 2-year, or 4-year: lower federal loan volume.
Debt for college graduates varies considerably by sector.
Ohio's need-based grant aid per student enrolled is just 30 percent of the US average, and just 1/8 of Washington, the most generous state in providing aid to low-income college students.
Recently released student loan default rates showed reductions nationally and in all Ohio sectors.
The budget increase to the Ohio College Opportunity Grant includes a 2-to-1 award ratio between sectors and an increase for all recipients.
Ohio independent and public colleges and universities are equally committed to educating Ohioans in need.
Maximum award levels in the federal Pell Grant program for needy college students have nearly doubled in the last 15 years.
Ohio veterans using education benefits from the VA have doubled since the beginning of the Post 9-11 program in 2010.
The Senate version of the two-year state of Ohio budget would raise financial aid for needy students to above $100 million for the first time in eight years.
After the state cut financial aid six years ago, Ohio nonprofit colleges have stepped up to meet their students' financial needs.
The House of Representatives' increase in the Ohio College Opportunity Grant represents a good first step in improving access to higher education for the state's neediest citizens.
Despite improved economic conditions that have reduced the number of eligible students, recipients meeting Ohio's stringent requirements for need-based student aid still exceed those from 2010-11 by more than 10 percent.
The Executive Budget's marginal increase in the Ohio College Opportunity Grant program will be swallowed up by new eligibility for year-round students at two-year campuses.
Students attending Ohio independent colleges have had their financial aid from the state of Ohio slashed by more than half in the last decade.
Although the unspent appropriation rolls over this year into the new Ohio College Opportunity Grant reserve fund, needy Ohio college students ended up more than $9 million short in state support for their direct college costs.
Despite increases in award amounts in both Pell and Ohio College Opportunity Grants, Ohio's poorest students still have an out of pocket cost at a publi university nearly fout times higher than they had six years ago.
Federal and state governments support Ohio's different types of higher education institutions differently.
Among the benefits of attending an independent college: you are among the least likely to have trouble paying off your student loans.
Ohio ranks 36th among the 50 states in the level of need-based grant funds per student, and 39th when measured against the state's overall population.
Despite recent marginal increases, appropriations for need-based financial aid from the state of Ohio are lower than they were during the first year of Gov. George Voinovich's second term - even without accounting for inflation.
In the five years since the radical cuts in state need-based aid, the net cost for a poor student to attend the average Ohio public university has more than quadrupled.
More than half the undergraduates considered to be "full-time" by federal financial aid regulations are not taking enough credits to earn a degree on time.
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Unlike those of other sectors, independent colleges' student loan defualt rates (the percentage of students who are more than 270 days delinquent within two years of entering repayment) did not rise in the most recent federal data.
States generally, and Ohio in particular, have failed to return need-based financial aid to anything approaching pre-recession levels.
A student who completes a degree or certificate at a for-profit college takes on more federal debt per credit than a student at an independent nonprofit college who does not complete.
Ohio fails to come close to the national norm in its commitment to financial aid.
For the second consecutive year, independent colleges provided more than $1 billion to their students in financial aid grants and scholarships.
An increase in appropriation directed toward needy public-sector students, along with an anticipated increase in eligible students in the independent sector and decrease in the public, led to changed award levels for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant for the coming academic year.
Need-based financial aid received only an incremental increase, targeted at students in the public and for-profit sectors, in the recently enacted Ohio biennial budget.
Institutional grants and scholarships rose at AICUO member institutions by 4.5 percent last academic year, while during the same year tuition and fees rose 2.6 percent.
The Ohio House Budget Committee has approved a small increase in funding for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant for the next two academic years.
More than 23,800 undergraduates at Ohio independent colleges shared $35.6 million in need-based financial aid from the state in the previous academic year.
The "sequester" will have no effect on the Pell Grant level for the 2013-14 academic year.
More than half of the for-profit colleges whose students receive Ohio College Opportunity Grant have three-year default rates that are higher than their sector's state and national average, and far above those of Ohio's independent and public colleges and universities.
In four years, the remaining cost for the state's neediest families to send a student to an Ohio public university, after state and federal financial aid, has quadrupled.
In the new three-year loan default rates, borrowers from Ohio independent colleges have a better record than those from other Ohio institutions and their nonprofit peers nationally.
While independent colleges have long offered financial aid grants from their own resources, the state's public campuses - their tuition already lowered by taxpayer-funded institutional subsidies - are increasingly using merit-based and other grants for their own enrollment management purposes.
Draconian cuts in state financial aid have placed an increasing burden on independent colleges and the federal government to provide financial aid grants to their students, as just four years earlier the state provided $80 million - 9 percent of the total awarded.
For the first time, Ohio's independent colleges have awarded more than $1 billion in student grants and scholarships from their own resources in a single year, representing 82 percent of all such aid received by their students.
Over the last two decades, while the states' commitment to student financial aid, measured in constant dollars, doubled, Ohio's dropped by 40 percent.
There is only slight improvement in next year's grants for Ohio's neediest students.
In just three years, state policy changes have led to the out-of-pocket cost for the state's neediest students of attending an Ohio public university to nearly quadruple.
Over a ten-year period, while the amount of federal student aid grants including Pell and loans grew by more 150 percent, the amount of this student aid received by for-profit higher education institutions nearly quintupled and their share of the total nearly doubled.
Ohio has under-funded need-based student aid for decades, but policy initiatives from two years ago have made the problem more acute than ever.
The small increase in need-based financial aid in the current state budget only begins to repair the recent damage to Ohio's commitment to the higher education of its neediest citizens.
Borrowers from Ohio independents have a lower default rate on student loans than their peers nationally. This cannot be said for other sectors, especially for-profit colleges.
Student success at Ohio's traditional colleges and universities is less reliant on students' ability to borrow.
Note: Credentials include degrees and certificates.
While business officers at independent nonprofit colleges and universities worry about whether students will come and can afford to attend, at for-profit colleges the key concern is availability of tax money to support their businesses.
The repeal two years ago of the Student Choice Grant, which supported Ohioans attending in-state independent colleges, eliminated a key incentive for students to stay in their home state for their education.
In its recently enacted budget, the state of Ohio kept the Ohio College Opportunity Grant alive, but could not return its level of support for needy students to its level of just three years ago.
Students from for-profit colleges are disproportionatley more likely to default on their student loans.
Ohio's independent colleges continue to increase their investment in financial aid from their own resources. This commitment has more than doubled in ten years, and more than tripled over 12 years.
The newest proposal on financial aid to the state's neediest students promotes a radical shift in focus.
Newly proposed changes in the Ohio College Opportunity Grant for the next two academic years will cut the state's support for its poorest students attending independent colleges by nearly two thirds over this year, and nearly seven eighths over just three years.
In the most recent report, half or more of Pell Grant recipients nationwide, depending on sector, cannot contribute a single dollar to their college education; and between two thirds and three fourths can only afford $1,000 or less.
By redistributing its higher education funds to limit public-campus tuition increases and simulataneously slash need-based aid, the state of Ohio more than tripled the out-of-pocket tuition at the public baccalaureate campuses for its poorest citizens.
The attempt to promote student access, by first freezing then limiting public-sector tuitions even as total higher education appropriations shrank, squeezed student financial aid and gave public-campus subsidy larger shares of smaller pies.
The nation's public colleges and universities are catching on to something that independents have been focusing on for years: using grant aid from their own resources to meet student need.
No one is proud of the number of students who default on their student loans, especially those shown here who default within two years of leaving college, but there is considerable variation within higher education sectors.
As the new fiscal year starts, Ohio's commitment to the higher education of its neediest citizens continues to shrink.
In the 2008-2009 academic year, Ohio's independent colleges increased the amount of student aid they gave from their own resources by 8.1 percent.
Ohio's commitment to its neediest college students will continue to shrink in the next academic year.
For the first time in this decade, more than half of entering first-year students in 2009 secured "aid that must be repaid" - i.e., loans - to support their college education.
For more information, visit the Freshman Survey section of the Higher Education Research Institution at the University of California at Los Angeles: www.heri.ucla.edu.
The financial commitment of Ohio's independent colleges to their own students has nearly tripled over a ten-year period.
As the start of the new school year approaches, campuses across the state, both public and private, are scrambling to help students faced with massive - and in one sector, total - cuts in state need-based financial aid.
Colleges around the state are now scrambling to help this fall's students, many of whom face thousands of dollars in state financial aid cuts.
Ohio independent colleges and universities have been able to educate increasing numbers of students from their home state, thanks to state programs such as the Student Choice Grant. The future with much more limited funding is cloudy.
Cuts in state aid - 10 percent less than the prior year - have placed more pressure on Ohio's independent colleges to assist students from their own funds. And they have responded by increasing student grants by almost 10 percent.
Changes in the state's financial aid programs proposed in the Executive Budget would drastically reduce the share that students at Ohio's independent colleges receive.
The outcome of the just-signed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - the "stimulus bill" - was most beneficial to students with financial need, as the maximum Pell grant will leap even higher than last week's chart (below) anticipated.
The federal commitment to needy students - finally unstuck after years of underfunding - may become even more substantial, depending on the progress of the economic stimulus bill that is headed to a House-Senate conference.
While a higher share of students borrow to attend private colleges, the percentage difference between public and private sectors is not as great as you might believe.
The newer need-based OCOG aid program offers a smaller share of money overall to students at independent campuses - although with a larger average grant - than the old OIG for two reasons. First, the difference in awards in OCOG to students at public and private colleges reflects less of the difference of the tuition charged by each sector than in OIG. Next, part-time students who constitute a larger share of enrollment at two-year and for-profit colleges are eligible for an OCOG award but not for an OIG.
Independent College Shares of Student Headcount and State of Ohio Higher Education Funds (not including capital funds)
Academic Year 2006-2007/Fiscal Year 2007
If you factor in money from the state's capital budget that supports infrastructure at public campuses, the share the state offers to independent colleges toward meeting Ohio's higher education goals shrinks even more.
Ohio's independent colleges award more than 3/4 of the grants received by their students - a commitment to their students unmatched by any other education sector.
Ohio's independent colleges have a large and increasing share of providing financial aid grants to their students - totaling nearly 3/4 of a billion dollars in the 2006-07 academic year.
The total dollars awarded in institutional financial aid grants by AICUO members jumped by 136 percent in a decade, far outstripping the 10-year increase in tuition and fees of 61%.
This fall, nearly 2/3 of the financial aid given to first-time, full-time freshman at AICUO member institutions came from the institutions themselves.
Undergraduate Financial Aid by Source
Ohio's independent colleges are the single largest source of financial aid to theirstudents - a half billion dollars annually.
Student Choice Grant Levels
Although the current state budget cut the Student Choice Grant for Ohio students at the state's independent colleges by almost a third, the grant still removes more than $2,500 from a student's loan debt after four years of study.