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Published: Friday, 1/9/2009

Ohio aid to private college students cut


COLUMBUS - About 50,000 students attending private Ohio colleges will take an immediate hit to their wallets because of state budget cuts.

On Monday, the Board of Regents sent a letter informing students who receive Ohio Student Choice Grants that their awards will be $20 less for spring term.

Last month, Gov. Ted Strickland ordered $640 million in spending cuts in response to slumping tax revenues and Ohio's crumbling economy. Those reductions are on top of $1.27 billion ordered last year.

In response, the Regents trimmed $2 million from the nearly $38.8 million Choice Grant program.

Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut said Wednesday that he didn't think any of the cuts he was ordering would hurt students.

His spokesman, Michael Chaney, attributed that statement to an oversight. Mr. Chaney said the chancellor has tried to minimize the effect of cuts on students, but the Choice Grants were affected because they are not based on need and do not go to public colleges.

About 25 percent of the projected 50,000 students who will receive the awards in the spring are from low to moderate-income families, Mr. Chaney said..

In 2007, the General Assembly reduced the student awards from $900 to $660. Mr. Strickland had recommended a steeper cut and that the grants be available only to needy students.

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