Dayton Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley today announced the Ohio Promise, a comprehensive plan to provide free community college to every Ohioan.
“The Ohio Promise is a two-way street,” continued Whaley. “We’ll get our students educated, trained and marketable for employers with a debt-free diploma, certificate or skilled trade. And we’ll provide Ohio’s employers with educated, trained employees ready to get to work.”
The Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation reported that of the over 200 jobs acknowledged as “in-demand” by the state, over half require some level of post-secondary education such as a certificate or degree. But college enrollment numbers are down in Ohio. Many students cite cost as a major barrier, as Ohio is among the least affordable states to attend college – 45th overall.
“Every Ohioan who works hard should have the opportunity to make a living for themselves and their families,” said Whaley. “Free community college will give Ohioans a chance to develop the skills needed to get good-paying jobs right here in our state.”
Whaley’s proposal will help Ohioans get the education and training they need to bridge the skills gap that many Ohio employers consider a barrier to finding qualified Ohio workers.
The Ohio Promise would require students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive all federal aid available with the state filling the “last dollar” gap needed for students to enroll. Every year, Ohio students leave over $90M of free federal resources on the table by not completing the FAFSA.
Initial estimates project the program could cost between $50-60M annually.
In Tennessee, where free community college has already been implemented statewide, enrollment for first-time freshman at community and technical schools increased by 30 percent.