By Andrea Cordle
The Grove City Higher Education Investment Program was designed to encourage college-educated students to remain in Grove City after graduation. That is still the goal, but a requirement that a student must reside in Grove City after graduation has been lifted.
Grove City Council signed off on the change at a recent meeting.
The higher education investment program was adopted by the city several years ago. According to city legislation, the objective of the program is to expand higher education opportunities in Grove City, attract economic development, encourage investment and employment expansion and support workforce training. It also aims to make the city a lifetime destination for employment and residency for young professionals.
Per the program, the city offers full-time students a $1,000 scholarship each semester or $3,000 a year. Students can receive a maximum amount of $12,000. The amount of the award part-time students could receive is $500 per semester or $1,500 a year. To qualify, the student must be a Grove City resident, attend a participating school and agree to perform 10 hours of community service. There was a requirement that the student remain a city resident after graduating but the program’s committee recommended that the city drop that rule.
“Forcing them to live here is not realistic,” said John Hampson, a former educator and higher education program committee member. “It is costing the city additional money that is unnecessary.”
According to Hampson, the administration was spending money trying to track down individuals who did not fulfill their promise to stay in Grove City.
The students may not stay in the city after completing their studies, but Hampson said the city has received valuable community service from the students. He said the hope of the committee is that the students will complete the community service, develop ties to the area and want to stay in Grove City.
“They have to want to be a part of the community,” said Hampson. “I think in the long run, you will see most of them stay in Grove City.”
Grove City councilman Ted Berry, who is also a higher education program committee member, said the community service requirement is significant.
“The students value the connection to the community through that community service,” he said.
A resident in attendance at the council meeting spoke out against the change in the program. Roger Burket said the initial purpose of the program, to eliminate educated residents from leaving, is gone.
“This is not going to work,” said Burket. “It was a bad idea from the beginning. Tax dollars should not go to scholarships.”
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said the city has rewarded 134 students with scholarships.
“That is money well spent,” said Stage.
The mayor said a main objective of the program is to secure a permanent institution of higher education within the city.
“We are telling colleges and universities that the city is building a pool of students who live here, and we want to subsidize their education,” said Stage.
According to Hampson, a brick and mortar college-level facility located in Grove City is the ultimate goal.
“I know you can see the possibilities,” Hampson said to council members.
Students who receive scholarship funds must attend an institute that has a presence in Grove City. The participating schools include Columbus State Community College, which offers classes at the Career Academy, Ohio Christian University at Grove City Church of the Nazarene, and Ohio Dominican University, also offering classes at the Career Academy.
To learn more about the Grove City Higher Education Investment Program, visit www.grovecityohio.gov. The deadline to apply for funding for the winter/spring semester is Nov. 1.