Ohio Student Debt Forgiveness Program Expands

The Be Ohio's Latest Degree holder (BOLD) Compact, which offers up to $5,000 in nonfederal college debt forgiveness, added another community college in April.
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Published on May 1, 2023
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  • The Be Ohio's Latest Degree holder Compact added Sinclair Community College in Dayton to its debt relief program.
  • That program seeks to reengage stopped-out students by offering up to $5,000 in nonfederal college debt forgiveness.
  • There are an estimated 1.5 million Ohioans with some college but no degree, according to the Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education.
  • The BOLD Compact already includes various colleges and universities in western and southern Ohio.

Another Ohio community college joined a debt forgiveness program last month, and school officials are reaching out to 25,000 formerly enrolled students as part of that expansion.

Sinclair Community College in Dayton joined the Be Ohio's Latest Degree holder (BOLD) Compact, a voluntary program that offers up to $5,000 in nonfederal college debt forgiveness for former students to finish their degrees.

Colleges in the BOLD Compact contact formerly enrolled students who didn't earn a degree to offer debt forgiveness, according to a press release. Various colleges in southern and western Ohio already participate in the program, including Clark State College, Edison State Community College, Shawnee State University, the University of Dayton, Wittenberg University, and Wright State University.

"Expanding the BOLD Compact opens the door for even more Ohioans to finish their degrees," Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said in the release. "By helping to remove barriers for former students, we can support them as they pursue their dreams and live up to their full potential."

There are an estimated 1.5 million Ohioans with some college but no degree, according to the Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE), which spearheads the BOLD Compact.

To be eligible for the program, students must:

  • Have previously enrolled in a BOLD Compact institution and have not attained a degree
  • Have been out of college for at least two semesters and not be currently enrolled in a college or university
  • Owe a certified debt to one of the BOLD Compact institutions of less than $5,000 and not assigned to the Ohio Attorney General special counsel. Students can also participate if they don't owe any debt.
  • Have no pending bankruptcy case
  • Have a GPA above 2.0 in their final term at their previously attended institution
  • Have not previously received BOLD's maximum debt cancellation

Students can apply for BOLD online.

SOCHE President Cassie Barlow said in the release that the BOLD Compact "has the potential to make a substantive impact on students who have the desire to come back to school to complete their degree. We want all students to know that we are their partners in completing their education."

There were more than 40 million students with some college but no credential nationwide as of July 2021, according to a recent report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Community colleges were the most common type of institution for last enrollment, reenrollment, and first credential attainment for students with some college but no credential, according to that report.

"Growing numbers of stop-outs and fewer returning students have contributed to the broader enrollment declines in recent years," National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Executive Director Doug Shapiro said in a release.

"While our latest enrollment report suggests this trend may be stabilizing, it is still uncertain when or how colleges might return to pre-pandemic levels. Today's report can help states and institutions understand the avenues of success for returning SCNC ('some college, no credential') students and identify areas of opportunity for better supporting their needs."