- 1 of 2 Photos | View More Photos
A few hundred dollars could be all that is standing between a Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) student and their degree. The college serves students from a variety of backgrounds: a majority are over 21-years-old and attend part time while working and/or raising families. Unexpected expenses often less than $500 may force them to decide between continuing their education or dropping out. In December 2015, COTC was awarded a nearly $40,000 grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation Dash Emergency Grant Program to help low-income students faced with a financial obstacle. This winter, two new partnerships were created to help more COTC students stay in school and on track for graduation.
TrueCore Federal Credit Union provides matching funds for emergency grants
The Dash program began providing funds on Jan. 1, 2016 and will cease on May 31, 2018. As part of the program, participating colleges must demonstrate proof of their commitment to at-risk students with an institutional investment. The goal of the Dash program is that, by providing an escalating cash match for emergency funds, colleges will address barriers to completion and move toward program sustainability.
COTC is one step closer to creating that sustainable emergency grant fund thanks to a new partnership with TrueCore Federal Credit Union. TrueCore has committed to provide matching funds of $4,000 in 2017 and up to $8,000 in 2018. In addition, TrueCore will hold financial literacy seminars open to students, faculty, and staff of COTC and The Ohio State University at Newark.
"TrueCore is honored to partner with COTC," said TrueCore President-CEO Jay Young. "TrueCore has very strong feelings about financial education and education in general. When this came across my desk, I thought this was a great opportunity to participate and help not just our members but members of our community out of a difficult time."
The shared value of community makes COTC and TrueCore well-suited for this partnership. Established in 1940, TrueCore is a not-for-profit financial institution that serves individuals who live, attend school, work or volunteer in Licking County. They operate four locations in the Newark and Heath area.
"As part of our mission, TrueCore is working to improve the financial well-being of our community," said Young. "By helping with Dash, we can extend a helping hand to other individuals we may not come in contact with through our normal business."
Common expenses covered by the program include, but are not limited to, automotive repairs, medical bills, and utility costs. Expenses are paid within 48 hours of the approved application. By quickly removing financial distractions, students don't lose focus on their studies and continue moving toward completion. Full details regarding eligibility and required documentation are available in the Office of Financial Aid.
"Low-income students have much to gain by completing one of COTC's technical degrees or certificates," said COTC President Bonnie L. Coe, Ph.D. "These same students are facing challenges outside of the classroom that are oftentimes caused or made worse by financial emergencies. COTC is appreciative of the commitment by TrueCore to educate and provide monetary assistance to students in need. Students are able to focus on their education knowing that their basic needs are being met."
Licking/Knox Goodwill Industries, Inc. automotive repair partnership
When it comes to financial obstacles, automobiles rise to the top. Many COTC students commute to one of its four campus locations for classes, so having reliable transportation is a necessity. A vehicle that isn't operating properly can be a hindrance to getting to class, and for some students, the expense to repair that vehicle can be a barrier to earning a degree.
"Auto repair is one of the most requested expenses in our emergency grant applications," said Director of Financial Aid Faith Phillips. "This is also one of the most complicated financial obstacles students face because they don't know where to get reliable information and fair estimates for repairs. As an institution, we want to ensure our emergency grant funds are used efficiently to maximize the number of students impacted."
To resolve transportation issues related to a student's private vehicle, COTC entered into an agreement with Licking/Knox Goodwill Industries, Inc. COTC will pay the cost of repairs, in whole or in part, to an eligible student's automobile performed by Licking/Knox Goodwill.
"Partnerships often provide an opportunity to make a bigger impact in so many ways. This particular partnership will enable students, who often have limited expendable resources, to obtain dependable and reliable auto repair service at a reasonable price while at the same time enabling Licking/Knox Goodwill to expand and fulfill its mission of providing training, employment, and support services to individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment," said Licking/Knox Goodwill Board Chairperson Robert McGaughy. "Licking/Knox Goodwill can use this unique vision to provide needed and fairly-priced service to students who need to rely on transportation to further their goals and ambitions."
For the purposes of COTC's student assistance programs, Licking/Knox Goodwill will serve as a COTC preferred vendor for automotive repair. Students interested in using this service must speak to a financial aid advisor to initiate the repair process. Both a college representative and the student will be involved in reviewing and approving the estimate provided by Licking/Knox Goodwill. Repairs are performed by ASE-certified automotive technicians in Licking/Knox Goodwill's vehicle repair facility located at 51 Wilson St. in Newark.
"Our personnel take pride in their work and utilize the most up-to-date diagnostic technology and tools available. I'm very confident in our services and total value," said Licking/Knox Goodwill CEO Timothy Young. "We are very excited for the opportunity to further enhance our relationship with COTC by offering support services to their students needing affordable and reliable vehicle repair and maintenance."