Beginning in the Spring of 2018, Clark State Community College military veteran students will have the option of utilizing funds from the Ohio College Opportunities Grant (OCOG) for housing and living expenses.
“We are honored to work with the Ohio Department of Higher Education to offer continued support to our military veterans,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “Clark State has really focused its efforts on recruiting and retaining veterans and active military. This new OCOG opportunity will allow us to further serve those students who have served our country.”
For students attending year-round at public community colleges, OCOG funding can be considered when a student has used all of their annual Pell grant funding.
“Most students use a Pell grant for fall and spring semesters, so OCOG funding - sometimes called Third-Term OCOG - is often applied during summer semester,” said Suzanne Harmon, director of financial aid for Clark State. “OCOG funding has been limited to payment toward tuition and general fees after all other grant and/or scholarship funds have been applied.”
Harmon said, effective Spring 2018, veterans may qualify for OCOG funding that can be applied toward housing and living expenses. “OCOG funding can be added to other funding sources – such as Post 9/11 tuition benefits - to increase financial assistance,” she said.
Clark State currently has 78 student veterans using Post 9/11 benefits this semester; 21 have tuition and fees paid at a rate less than 100 percent. The remainder of the cost is covered by other aid or the student pays out-of-pocket. Veterans using any other VA benefit are not affected by this change and have been able to use OCOG if otherwise eligible.
“This change will allow veterans using the Post 9/11 VA benefit to potentially receive additional aid in the form of a refund to help with more than tuition and fees,” said Dana Kapp, veterans service specialist for Clark State.
Kapp said Post 9/11 veterans have tuition and fees paid everywhere from 40 to 100 percent based on their years of active-duty service. “Since the grant now allows for housing and living expenses, any part of the grant not used to pay tuition and fees in the case of a student receiving less than 100 percent of the tuition cost can be refunded to the student,” she said.
Veteran students do not have to contact the Clark State veteran services specialist or Financial Aid Office to start the grant process. These offices will be working together to identify eligible students after the spring semester has started and course attendance has been verified.
Per the Ohio Association of Community Colleges, “living expenses” include reasonable costs for room and board that is indicated in each institution’s total cost of attendance.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education administers the OCOG program, which provides grant money to Ohio residents who demonstrate the highest levels of financial need as determined by the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) who are enrolled at Ohio colleges or universities.
Clark State currently serves 142 United States military veteran students, 19 active military students, 31 National Guard or Reserve students, 88 dependents and 40 military spouses.
Clark State received the designation of Top School in the 2017 Military Advanced Education & Transition (MAE&T) Guide to Colleges & Universities. This honor is awarded to institutions with the very best practices in military- and veteran-supportive education.
In 2015 Clark State was designated as a Purple Heart Campus and was approved by the Community College of the Air Force as a General Education Mobile (GEM) partner. Clark State was the first community college in Ohio to receive this approval. The College also features a Veterans Lounge that provides student veterans with a place to unwind, study, hold meetings or network.
In May of this year, seven Clark State students were inducted into the SALUTE National Honor Society. SALUTE – Service, Academics, Leadership, Unity, Tribute, Excellence - is the only national honor society recognizing and honoring the service and scholastic achievements of student veterans.
Clark State also initiated a 50 percent tuition discount to military students and a 25 percent discount to eligible spouses beginning with the Fall 2017 semester.