On June 19, United States Senator Sherrod Brown and his staff hosted his 12th annual Ohio College Presidents Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference allowed Ohio college presidents to gather, listen to updates on key federal issues, speak with the Ohio Congressional delegation and interact with key federal policy makers. In attendance were both US Ohio senators as well as five Ohio representatives, including Rep. Bob Latta (OH 5th District). The focus of the day was improving student access to education and student success. A total of 33 Ohio college presidents from public and private schools attended the conference.
The Ohio Congressional delegation spoke of strong bi-partisan support in both houses for two key measures. The first is reforming the federal aid form (FASFA) from its current 180 questions down to 20 questions and a data exchange with the IRS to speed verification of financial aid eligibility. The second is using student federal financial aid for short-term education leading to in-demand jobs. The Ohio college and university presidents strongly endorsed these bipartisan measures.
In addition, the presidents heard from several policy makers, including the Trump administration, on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. The Act was last reauthorized in 2008, and Congress wants to complete a reauthorization before the August recess. Other key discussions focused on best practices to improve student success. Of noted interest was reshaping educational systems to fit the adult learner, the effectiveness of free tuition policies in other states, providing non-college services to support students (e.g. daycare, transportation), smoother transfer processes between institutions, and Ohio’s plans to implement an accelerated degree program.
NSCC President Michael Thomson was a first-time attendee of the event and found the gathering very meaningful. “It gave Ohio college presidents a place to voice uniform support on key issues that will help our students access and complete their education,” he said.
Thomson also mentioned the willingness of presidents around the state to work together to help reach the 65% degree attainment by 2025, as well as the strong esprit de corps of the Ohio Congressional delegation. “In a climate where politics often divides us, it was very heartening to see the Ohio Congressional delegation working together on a key issue – helping Ohioans access and complete education that leads to a higher quality of life,” Thomson noted.