An offer of free tuition at Owens Community College has been extended to Findlay High School graduates who qualify.
Owens announced yesterday that it will pick up the difference in tuition for seniors who qualify for some state and federal grant funding. The students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, application and enroll in 12 or more credit hours at Owens, either for fall or spring semester, after they graduate from high school.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for our students," said Findlay High Principal Craig Kupferberg.
Owens launched the same program with Woodward High School in Toledo in February. So far, more than 40 Woodward graduates are in the process of applying to Owens through the program, Owens officials said.
Ann Savage, president and chief executive officer of the Owens Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the college, said the foundation is paying for the program as a way to enroll high school graduates who didn't think college was an option for them because they couldn't afford it. She said the foundation also wants to encourage students to graduate.
"They have to get that diploma. That's really, really important," Ms. Savage said. "Part of the program is not only to bridge the gap [between financial aid and tuition] for them and encourage them to go to college, but also to encourage them to finish high school."
Ms. Savage said the foundation would ultimately like to extend the offer to graduates of every high school in its district, covering all of Lucas, Wood, and Hancock counties, the Woodmore school district in Sandusky County, and Genoa and Benton Carroll Salem Local Schools in Ottawa County.
She said the foundation chose Findlay High School as the second school to partner with because it is the largest feeder school to the college's Findlay campus.
Mr. Kupferberg said he did not know how many Findlay students would qualify but said at least 10 were already in the process of applying.
"I'm hoping it will appeal to any student who is having trouble financially going on to a postsecondary institution," he said. "With the economy the way it is, I see that number growing."
Ms. Savage said Owens has $122,000 set aside to fund the program for the two schools.
"This is very much an experiment on our part and it's a really good experiment, and we're happy to do it," she said.
Woodward and Findlay students have until July 1 to apply for enrollment this fall.
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