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Many Mount Union College Students Could Lose Choice Grants

May 14, 2007

About 500 current students at Mount Union College are in danger of losing Ohio Student Choice Grants under a budget proposal advanced by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. Altogether, Mount Union will lose approximately $600,000 in financial aid.

Choice grants are $900 grants provided to Ohio residents attending private colleges and universities in the state and were originally designed as an incentive to encourage more students to attend college in Ohio rather than out of state. When enacted in 1983, only about 47 percent of the students attending independent colleges and universities were from Ohio. Today, about 72 percent of the students come from Ohio homes.

Todd Jones, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO), said the development of Choice grants was also intended as a way to offset billions of dollars in costly construction and operation of tax-supported public universities.

'In 1983, the state could choose to either build more public colleges and universities or to provide an incentive for more students to attend existing independent colleges and universities,' he said. 'The Choice grants provided an alternative that saved the state billions.'

According to Jones, 50 percent of Ohio students currently attending Mount Union who receive the Choice grants would lose those grants next year under the budget proposed by Strickland.

'Maybe to some people, $900 doesn't seem like much. But to too many of our students, $900 might just spell the difference between attending college and not attending college,' he said. 'Some might opt to attend school out of state, reversing the gains we have made since Choice grants were implemented.'

Jones said that statewide about 45,000 students at private colleges and universities are in danger of losing the grants. That number represents 79 percent of all students attending private schools or universities in Ohio. Altogether, $36 million in Student Choice Grants would be lost.

A web site, www.savestudentchoice.com, has been developed to help students, faculty, parents and other supporters to contact legislators about the Student Choice Grant program.

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