Ohio grant money could see increase

Rachel Abbey

A bill recently passed by the Ohio Congress could give more money to student financial aid.

Congress passed the state’s budget corrections and capital re-appropriations bill over Spring Break, and Gov. Bob Taft has signed it.

The Ohio Instructional Grant program, the Board of Regents’ largest need-based grant program, could receive up to $30 million in additional funds for the next two years, said Deborah Gavlik, associate vice chancellor for government relations and finance.

More people than expected have been eligible for the grants, Gavlik said. Some changes in the last budget bill increased the number of people eligible for an Ohio Instructional Grant.

There has been about a 33 percent increase in the number of people who qualify for a grant from 2001 to 2005, Gavlik said. In 2005, 103,711 students received a grant.

“It’s good for the future of Ohio because these people are investing in their future,” Gavlik said.

“More students, more people around Ohio seem to be getting the message that it’s important.”

Ohio’s economy has played a role as well, Gavlik said. One way the board estimates need for these grants is to look at how wages are projected to increase. She said she thinks the Board expected wages to increase proportionately, but they did not at the lower end of the scale, so people need more assistance than expected.

Some other changes gave more money to already eligible students, like those paying for their own education, Gavlik said. Those kinds of changes also factor in to the grant program’s shortfall.

If the Board cannot fund all the necessary grants, the state will give the program up to $30 million for fiscal year 2006 and another $30 million for 2007, Gavlik said.

“We have to scrape the bottom of the barrel here first,” said Richard Petrick, vice chancellor for finance.

The Board is supposed to first look into its own accounts, Petrick said, and any leftover funds they find will go to the Ohio Instructional Grant program.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected]