CLEVELAND — It's being called an unprecedented opportunity for roughly 15,000 former students across the Northeast Ohio region.
“We really are looking for an opportunity to re-engage with these students," said Jonathan Wehner, Cleveland State University Vice President and Dean of Admissions Enrollment Management and Student Success.
Eight Northeast Ohio public universities, colleges, and community colleges are working as one.
The goal is to get students who dropped out and have outstanding debt back into the classroom to finish up their degrees.
Officials behind the "Ohio College Comeback Compact" say there is no catch.
It boils down to straight academics.
“Part of this program, of course, is looking at students who have unpaid balances and figuring out how we can remove that barrier for them to continue their education," said Sean Broghammer, Vice President Enrollment Management Kent State University.
The Ohio College Comeback Compact allows students who attended Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Kent State University, Stark State College, The University of Akron, and Youngstown State University to return for coursework.
Students can iron out additional details with their advisors.
However, the standard qualifications for the Ohio College Comeback Compact are as follows:
-Students who have been out of college for at least one year.
-Those that maintained at least a 2.0 GPA.
-Students with under $5,000 in debt.
“We felt kind of a moral imperative to help these folks cross that finish line," said Wehner.
A large part of the program highlights convenience as students who have left college made various life changes and may have moved.
Students don’t have to re-enroll at their initial college or community college they previously attended.
They can attend any one of the eight universities/community colleges included in the program.
“This allows you the opportunity to get a fresh start--to go to another campus, experience their support services, their resources that are available," said Broghammer.
If you finish out one semester, $2,500 in debt is forgiven.
If you finish out two semesters, $5,000 in debt is forgiven.
Officials say it’s a game changing moment--making education accessible to those who may have not have ever considered returning to school.
“Really think hard about what investment you’re gonna put in and then the return on investment you might get out in terms of having that degree—I mean nothing feels better than walking across that stage," said Wehner.
If you're interested in participating in the program, check out the Ohio College Comeback Compact's website here.
There is an entire form prospective students can fill out to see if they meet the requirements.
Officials with both CSU and Kent State say even if you didn't drop out over the last year, they want you to contact them because they say they will help students through the process of re-enrollment and try to secure the necessary aid.