Second Chance Grant Pilot Program

The objectives of the Second Chance Grant Pilot Program are to reduce financial barriers preventing Ohioans with some college credit but no bachelor’s degree from returning to higher education and to increase the number of Ohioans with a degree or credential. The Second Chance Grant Pilot Program will provide up to $3 million in financial assistance in the form of $2,000 grants to eligible students re-enrolling at a qualifying institution in order to obtain a degree or credential.


Links

 

Key Information

Click on a topic for more:

Overview

Approximately 1.5 million Ohioans have earned some college credit but no degree. It is critical to the continued economic well-being of the State of Ohio that a substantial number of these former students earn a credential. Indeed, economists have indicated that increasing the number of Ohioans with postsecondary degrees or credentials is necessary for Ohio to remain economically competitive and meet the workforce needs of the future. As we think about ways to increase postsecondary enrollment and meet Ohio’s workforce needs, we should explore as many creative options as possible to incentivize these former students to come back to our institutions. 

In pursuit of this goal, and in order to facilitate the return to higher education by Ohioans who stopped out prior to crossing the finish line, the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) recently issued guidance for voluntary institutional debt relief programs titled College Comeback.  

The State of Ohio is further strengthening its commitment to assisting students in attaining a degree or credential through the establishment of the Second Chance Grant Pilot Program. Qualifying institutions are encouraged to market the Second Chance Grant Pilot Program to disenrolled students who may wish to renew their pursuit of a degree or credential.

The objectives of the Second Chance Grant Pilot Program are to reduce financial barriers preventing Ohioans with some college credit but no bachelor’s degree from returning to higher education and to increase the number of Ohioans with a degree or credential. As such, qualifying institutions are recommended to promote the Second Chance Grant Pilot Program to students who have demonstrated that they are likely to be able to earn a degree or credential in a reasonable amount of time if given an increase in financial support. Qualifying institutions may wish to prioritize grants to students who are within one-year of completion, for example. It is also strongly encouraged that institutions combine the Second Chance Grant with other financial aid programs and debt forgiveness programs (i.e., College Comeback) to maximize the financial benefit to the re-enrollee and additionally incentivize stopped-out students to consider returning.

The Second Chance Grant Pilot Program will provide up to $3 million in financial assistance in the form of $2,000 grants to eligible students re-enrolling at a qualifying institution in order to obtain a degree or credential. Second Chance Grants shall be applied against the student’s cost of attendance (COA) after all need-based federal and state grants have been applied. Grants will be awarded on a first-come first-serve basis, beginning in the spring semester (winter quarter) of 2022. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis until such time that grant funds are exhausted or 1,500 re-enrollees have been issued grants.

Eligibility

Student eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • The re-enrollee is a resident of the State of Ohio.
  • The re-enrollee has not obtained a bachelor’s degree from any accredited institution of higher education.
  • The re-enrollee disenrolled (“stopped out”) from a state institution of higher education in Ohio and did not transfer to another institution of higher education in the three semesters (four quarters) immediately following the disenrollment.
  • The re-enrollee was in good academic standing with no record of disciplinary issues (including suspension or expulsion) at the time of disenrollment.
  • The re-enrollee is enrolling in a qualifying institution within five years of their disenrollment.
  • The re-enrollee’s start of re-enrollment will be on or after January 1, 2022. 
  • The re-enrollee is not enrolled in the College Credit Plus program.
  • The re-enrollee completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and applies for any federal and state need-based grants and/or scholarships to which the student would be entitled as verified by the receiving institution.
  • The re-enrollee is pursuing a credential or degree beyond that which they already possess (i.e., if the student possesses an associate degree, the student is pursuing a bachelor’s degree).
  • The re-enrollee is not a recipient of one of the following state supported scholarships: Choose Ohio First Scholarship, Ohio Safety Officers College Memorial Fund, War Orphans and Severely Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship Program, or Ohio National Guard Scholarship.


Qualifying Institutions are defined as one of the following:

  • A state institution of higher education, as defined in section 3345.011 of the Revised Code;
  • A private nonprofit institution of higher education that holds a certificate of authorization pursuant to Chapter 1713. of the Revised Code;
  • An institution with a certificate of registration from the Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools under Chapter 3332. of the Revised Code;
  • A private institution exempt from regulation under Chapter 3332. of the Revised Code as prescribed in section 3333.046 of the Revised Code;
  • An Ohio Technical Center, as defined in section 3333.94 of the Revised Code.

Step One: Pre-Registration

Qualifying institutions must pre-register their intention to participate in the Second Chance Grant pilot program through completion of an online form. This pre-registration includes the submission of the name and email address of one designated employee to be provided access to the web portal. All applications must be submitted through the web portal. Pre-registration will open on October 7, 2021 and continue until funds are exhausted.  

Step Two: Application

Institutions may make an offer of a second chance grant to qualifying students when they apply for admission. When a qualifying student is accepted, the institution will notify ODHE through an online web portal. The web portal is currently being developed and is anticipated to be ready for use on November 1, 2021. Qualifying institutions will be made aware as soon as ODHE is ready to begin accepting applications via the web portal. In the meantime, institutions are encouraged to begin marketing the Second Chance Grant Pilot Program to disenrolled students who may wish to renew their pursuit of a degree or credential.

Institutions that have pre-registered will have access to the Second Chance Grant web portal beginning November 1 and until all available funds have been exhausted. As the Second Chance Grants will be provided on a first-come first-serve basis, it is recommended that applications be submitted on a regular (i.e., daily) basis immediately following successful admission to the institution by the re-enrollee. Upon receipt of the information, ODHE will reserve an award for the admitted student. Please note that all fields within the web portal are required to be completed for an application to be considered received. When institutions make an offer of a grant, the student should be informed that there are a limited number of grants available and receiving the award may be dependent upon the date of the student’s acceptance into the institution.  

Award

Second Chance grants shall be awarded by ODHE to the re-enrollee’s institution following verification of enrollment on the institution’s census date. The first grants will be awarded for spring semester (winter quarter), 2022. Grants will continue to be awarded on a rolling basis until such time that available funds are exhausted. Institutions will be notified when all available grants have been reserved. While grants are awarded on a first-come first-serve basis, ODHE reserves the right to make modifications to the grant award process to better attain the goals and objectives of the Pilot Program and the State of Ohio. This may result in distribution of awards to achieve an appropriate balance of geographical region, institutional sector, and/or demographic factors.  

Institutions receiving student awards agree to verify awardees’ enrollment via the web portal within 10 working days of the institution’s census date. Grants shall be applied against the student’s COA after any federal or state need-based grants have been accepted and applied. Students receiving state supported scholarships (Choose Ohio First Scholarship, Ohio Safety Officers College Memorial Fund, War Orphans and Severely Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship Program, or Ohio National Guard Scholarship) are not eligible for Second Chance grants. If any amount of the $2,000 Second Chance Grant remains after applying it to the re-enrollee’s COA for the academic year, the remainder shall be applied to any other year in which the student is enrolled and the Second Chance Grant program is operating. The institution shall return to ODHE any amount remaining after the re-enrollee graduates or disenrolls from the institution or after the Second Chance Grant program ceases to operate. 

Qualifying institutions receiving grant funds agree to provide additional data on grantees’ program(s) of study at their previous and current institution(s), retention, progress toward credential, enrollment status, credential status, and any other grant-related information as requested by ODHE.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

FROM POTENTIAL STUDENTS:

    1. I took some classes at a college a few years ago and want to finish my degree. Do I qualify for this grant?

    Yes. Students who stopped out of (withdrew from) an Ohio public university (main campus OR branch campus) or community college are eligible for the Second Chance Grant if they meet the criteria below:

    2. I earned a certificate when I went to a community college before. Do I qualify for the grant?

    Yes. Students who earned a certificate or an industry certification but have not earned a degree are eligible for the Second Chance Grant provided they meet all other qualifications for the grant. Students MUST be pursuing a credential or degree beyond what they currently possess, so if you have already possess a certificate, you will need to be pursuing a degree (associate or bachelor’s).

    3. I have an associate degree. Do I qualify for the grant?

    Yes. Students who have earned an associate degree are eligible for the Second Chance Grant if they meet all of the other eligibility criteria and are pursuing a bachelor’s degree. The Second Chance Grant may not be used to earn a second associate degree or a certificate or certification if a recipient already has an associate degree.

    4. I tried college before and I’m not interested in earning a degree, but I do want to earn a certification to get a better job with better pay. Can this grant be used for a certification?

    Yes. Students who have some college credit but do not yet have a degree and are now seeking a non-degree certification or certificate are eligible for the Second Chance Grant program.

    5. I’m interested in the grant, but I don’t want to restart my college career until next fall. Will the grant be available then?

    The Second Chance Grant is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis until all available funds have been distributed. There is no guarantee that funding will still be available in future academic terms.

    6. Do I have to go back to the school that I left to use this grant?

    No. While you can use the Second Chance Grant at your previous institution, you don’t have to. You can use the grant at any qualifying school regardless of which Ohio public university or community college that you attended previously.

    7. At which schools can the Second Chance Grant be used?

    The Second Chance Grant can be used at nearly any school that is approved to operate in Ohio. These include:

    If you have a question about whether a school in which you are interested qualifies for participation in the Second Chance Grant program, contact that school’s financial aid office or email the Ohio Department of Higher Education at secondchancegrant@highered.ohio.gov.

    8. What is Cost of Attendance (COA)?

    Cost of Attendance is the amount of money it will cost for a student to attend a college or university. COA is typically calculated as an estimate of the cost of tuition and fees, room and board (or living expenses), books, supplies, transportation, allowance for child or dependent care, and other miscellaneous costs.

    9. What does it mean when it says, “Second Chance grants shall be applied against the student’s cost of attendance (COA) after all need-based federal and state grants have been applied?”

    To receive a Second Chance Grant, a student must apply for federal and state financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If the student qualifies for any need-based grants (Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, or Ohio College Opportunity Grants), the student will need to accept those grants. The amount of those grants is subtracted from the student’s COA, and the Second Chance Grant (up to $2,000) is applied to the remainder.

    10. What if the remainder of my COA is less than the $2,000 of the Second Chance Grant? For example, what if the remainder of my COA is only $1,500 after accepting federal and state need-based grants?

    In this case, the Second Chance Grant would be applied to the remaining $1,500, completely covering the COA for this term. The remaining $500 would roll over to the next term that the student is enrolled. If the student leaves after this term (graduates or withdraws from the college or university), the college or university will return the remaining $500 to the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

    11. How do I apply for the Second Chance Grant?

    Students don’t apply for the second Chance Grant, themselves. The financial aid office of the school that you will be attending will submit an application for you. Make sure to speak to a financial aid representative at your prospective school about the Second Chance Grant program.

    12. I’m still a bit confused. Who can I contact with questions?

    If you know which institution you are thinking of attending, you can contact that institution’s financial aid department for more information. You can also contact the Ohio Department of Higher Education by emailing secondchancegrant@highered.ohio.gov.

     

    FROM INSTITUTIONS:

    1. Why must institutions pre-register, and what is involved in the pre-registration process?

    The pre-registration process is a simple web-based form that provides ODHE with some necessary information: 

    • For institutions that are not already involved in the HEI system, the pre-registration process allows ODHE to enter your institution into the system, which is necessary for payment of the grants. ODHE will also verify that a pre-registered institution has a state OAKS supplier ID. If an institution does not have an OAKS supplier ID, ODHE will work with the institution in establishing one.
    • The pre-registration process establishes the designated institutional employee who will have access to the online application portal. 
    • The pre-registration process requires the institution to note its census date, which is necessary for payment of the grant.
    • The pre-registration process requests a rough estimate of the number of grant awards that the institution anticipates utilizing. This allows ODHE to better plan how funds are likely to be distributed in order to avoid making offers beyond the allocated $3 million.

    2. I don’t know that we will have any qualified students. Should my institution pre-register?

    There is no downside to pre-registering your institution. Pre-registration does not engender a commitment on your institution’s part, and you can estimate the number of awards at zero. The advantage is that you are prepared if you do have a qualified student enroll.

    3. How long will pre-registration be open and available?

    Pre-registration will be available as long as the program is operating and funds are available.

    4. When will the online application portal be available and how long will it be active?

    The online application portal is actively under construction and is anticipated to be available on November 1, 2021. The online application portal will be available as long as the program is operating and funds are available.

    5. When should my institution begin marketing this program given that the online application portal will not be available until November 1?

    ODHE recommends marketing the Second Chance Grant program as soon as possible. There is some work required on the part of the institution to verify that the student qualifies (including ensuring that the student completes the FAFSA). ODHE anticipates that there may be a significant “batch” of applications on November 1 when the online portal opens.

    6. What should our institution make sure to communicate when marketing the program to students?

    It is important to let qualifying students know that there is a limited pool of funds. As such, it is possible that not all qualifying students will be able to receive a grant.

    7. How does the first-come, first-serve nature of the program operate?

    • Once the online application portal is available, the designated institutional employee will be able to add qualified students to the portal who have been admitted to the institution. Each application will be date/time-stamped to indicate when it has been completed. Upon receipt of a completed application, ODHE will reserve a $2,000 award for that student. Please note that only completed applications will result in an award reservation.  
    • This process will continue until such time that 1,500 awards have been reserved.
    • The institution will verify the qualified student’s enrollment through the online application portal within 10 working days of the institution’s census date. Upon receipt of enrollment verification, ODHE will pay the award(s) through the HEI payment system.

    8. Are there limits on what credentials or degrees Second Chance grantees may be pursuing?

    Second Chance grantees must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree, associate degree, undergraduate certificate, or certification. There are no restrictions on a particular major or program. Students who already possess a degree or credential MUST be pursuing a degree or credential beyond that which they already possess in order to qualify for a Second Chance Grant.  

    • Students possessing an associate degree must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
    • Students possessing a certificate must be pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree.
    • Students possessing a certification must be pursuing a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree.

    9. I notice that institutions receiving grant funds agree to provide additional data on grantees. What are the data reporting requirements for the Second Chance Grant?

    ODHE anticipates that institutions will be asked to report on grantees each term that they are enrolled. A report will be sent to each institution that receives an award each term. While it is possible that there may be some additional data necessary, it is expected that the initial reporting required will be the following fields (per grantee):

    • Student Identifier
    • Term and Year
    • Cost of Attendance for the Term
    • Amount of State/Federal Need-Based Grants Awarded
    • Amount of Second Chance Grant Used for the Term (if any)
    • Current Program of Study
    • Previous Institution
    • Most Recent Previous Enrollment Date
    • Program of Study at Previous Institution
    • Credential or Degree earned at Previous Institution (if any)

    After the grantee’s initial term, it is expected that reporting required will be the following fields (per grantee):

    • Term and Year
    • Amount of Second Chance Grant Used for the Term (if any)
    • Current Registration Status
    • Credits Earned Since Enrollment (if any)
    • Credential or Degree Earned Since Enrollment (if any)

    10. The list of qualifying institutions appears exhaustive; are there any additional considerations required for an institution to qualify for this program?

    In order to encourage potential students to earn a degree or certificate, the Second Chance Grant Pilot Program was designed to be inclusive of a wide variety of post-secondary institutions approved to operate in the State of Ohio.  To qualify to receive Second Chance Grant funds, the institution must be eligible to participate in Title IV student financial aid programs.

    11. Other than information on the website, how is the ODHE promoting this program across the state?

    While ODHE is engaged in some marketing of the program through press releases, social media and the website, it is our hope that individual institutions will market the program to potential students.

    12. Does the student need to be a new re-enrollment to the institution, or can the funds be applied to a student who is currently in a program?

    The student does need to be a new enrollee at the institution as of January 1. Current students are not eligible for the Second Chance Grant Program.

    13. The institution I represent is eligible to participate in Title IV student financial aid programs, but several of our programs do not qualify for financial aid due to length. Is a FAFSA still required for these students seeking a Second Chance Grant in these shorter programs?

    Yes, the FAFSA is still required even if a program is not Title IV eligible.

    14. The institution I represent is eligible to participate in Title IV student financial aid programs, but is not actively participating in Title IV financial aid programs. Are enrollees to my institution eligible for a Second Chance Grant, and would they need to fill out a FAFSA?

    An institution is eligible to participate in the Second Chance Grant program as long as it is Title IV eligible (and meets all requirements as a qualifying institution, even if it is not active in Title IV Financial Aid programs. Any potential Second Chance Grantee would still need to fill out the FAFSA.

    15. Should regional campuses apply as separate institutions, or does the University apply as one institution?

    Universities should apply as one institution. A single designated individual will need to process all applications for both main and regional campuses.

    16. It seems clear that a student who possess a certification can pursue a certificate if they did not receive any certificate previously. For example, a student who has a phlebotomy certification (qualified through work experience) could pursue an EKG certificate as long as they didn’t earn a phlebotomy certificate (or any other certification) previously. Is this correct?

    This is correct. The intention is to incentivize an upward track in terms of educational attainment, ideally stimulating a life-long learning approach to education.

     

    Contact

    Please address questions to secondchancegrant@highered.ohio.gov.