The coronavirus pandemic has many high school seniors wondering what their postsecondary future may hold, from uncertainly about affording their top-pick institutions, to whether those colleges will even endure financially.
Edison State Community College wants local high school students to know it’s there for them. And to ease students’ and families’ minds, the Ohio college will cover tuition for all local graduating high school seniors who enroll for the fall.
The effort is somewhat of an extension of its successful dual-enrollment program, says President Doreen Larson. About 2,000 of the college’s 4,500 students are dually enrolled, she says.
“It’s a big piece of what we do,” Larson says.
All community colleges in Ohio participate in the state’s College Credit Plus (CCP) program, which allows high school students to dually enroll free of charge, covering tuition, fees and books. To encourage its CCP students to continue with their education and earn an associate degree, Edison State provides a full scholarship to students who have earned 45 credits or more. And it offers half-price to CCP students who have earned at least nine credits.
Through the new opportunity, the college will provide full-tuition scholarships for all graduating high school seniors in the Edison State service area and CCP partner high schools, regardless of their level of participation in the CCP program.
With the onset of the pandemic, many families’ plans for college are now uncertain. Edison State’s offer aims to show students there is one option they can count on, even if they ultimately decide to attend another institution, Larson says.
The college hasn’t run how much the offer might cost it, but Larson says this is the time for colleges to be bold and to help students keep moving forward.
“I’d rather do it, giving more students access to college than to hunker down,” she says. “At least they will have a plan.”
CCP is a last-dollar program, meaning students first must use any financial aid for which they may be eligible. But that means students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). And that’s a good thing, as there have been reports that the number of FAFSA submissions appear to be down, likely a result of the pandemic.
Giving students some peace of mind also gets them back in a college-going mindset and thinking about courses and schedules, says Larson, who credits her team with the idea.
“I was so proud of my team of thinking broadly and creatively,” she says. ‘This is the time to do it.”