Student aid needs your support

To the editor:

Did you know that Ohio is ranked 45th out of 50 states in terms of college affordability? Most of us have seen news stories about crippling amounts of student loans, but what we don’t always see are the amazing high school seniors right here in Oberlin who fall short of their career dreams due to this issue.

It hasn’t always been this way. In 1979, the Federal pell grant covered 77 percent of tuition at a four year public institutions. By 2013, that number was down to 31 percent. Nationally, our aid programs have failed to keep pace with increasing tuition prices, but we are also letting students down at the state level. Ohio four year public institutions cost 11.5 percent more than the national average, and our two year community colleges are 14.5 percent higher than their peers nationally. The Ohio College Opportunity Grant was once a robust need-based program, but was drastically cut in 2007-2008, and is currently funded at only 60 percent of what it used to be.

So how does this play out here in Oberlin? We are lucky to have numerous organizations, families, and business that fund scholarships and provide part time jobs for Oberlin students as they try to pay for college. This is an essential component, but there is still huge unmet need. Likewise, Lorain County Community College is an excellent and affordable option, but here in Oberlin, transportation is still a major barrier.

I care about the future of our young people here in Oberlin, and I think many of you do as well. Please consider calling your elected officials and ask them to fix this issue. Urge state representatives to increase Ohio College Opportunity Grant funding, and ask officials in Washington, D.C., to increase the Pell grant, and support self-help student aid programs such as AmeriCorps and Federal Work-study.

Katie Hayes