By Tala Alsharif and Jillian McIntosh
The Ohio College Comeback Program at Youngstown State University aids former students with financial holds to complete their degree.
Molly Burdette, the assistant director degree completion and credential facilitator, said students who have not been enrolled for three semesters and have amassed debt may be eligible to return to YSU.
“The College Comeback program is for students who have dropped out of school or stopped out of school, who owe money to YSU that has been sent to the Attorney General’s office,” Burdette said.
Students should be in good academic standing and owe less than $5,000 to meet the minimum eligibility requirements to reenroll.
“Up to $5,000 [is] forgiven,” Burdette said. “The students have to take six semester hours, so two classes each semester. For two semesters, $2,500 per semester is forgiven.”
Returning students can use financial aid and other resources after their financial holds are released.
University Bursar, Susan Ewing, oversees operations of the billing and collecting at the university.
Ewing said she collected data to create the eligibility requirements for the campus program, alongside the previous registrar, Jeanne Herman.
“I actually collected some of the data … as we worked with the Consortium to come up with some of the requirements and eligibility,” Ewing said. “I helped actually write the program and the spreadsheet that determines who’s actually eligible so that we can turn that into Ithaka and then they can determine who is actually eligible for the program.”
Ithaka S+R is a nonprofit learning organization that worked with the Ohio Department of Higher Education and College Now Greater Cleveland in support of the eight public colleges and universities involved.
Any student previously enrolled at any of the participating institutions is eligible for YSU’s program.
The seven institutions also participating in the program are Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Kent State University, Stark State College and The University of Akron.
Ewing said the goal of this program is to give the opportunity for returning students to move forward in their education.
“I really see in fall of 2023, it’s really picked up. In the beginning, we started this in fall 2022,” Ewing said. “We had seven students sign up and we were fortunate enough to cancel six of those seven students’ debt.”
Former students looking to reenroll can contact Burdette to schedule an appointment to get reinstated. Students can also visit the Penguin Service Center’s website for more resources.