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EGCC tuition plan good for region

Eastern Gateway Community College is putting its expertise in online and distance learning to use to offer local students the chance to take summer classes with no out-of-pocket costs.

The school announced Monday a program called the EGCC Summer Guarantee, which will allow students to earn college credit during the summer semester at no cost to them — not for tuition, not for fees and not for books.

Described as a “last dollar” scholarship, it will cover out-of pocket costs after Pell Grants and other financial aid legibility has been determined.

The program is open to new, continuing and returning students who live in the college’s service district, which includes Jefferson, Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Students who are enrolled at other colleges and universities and are back at home in the service area also are eligible to participate.

It’s a move that comes at the right time for area residents who have experienced disruption in their education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and falls right in line with the school’s mission of providing quality and affordable education.

Technology, and EGCC’s expanding online presence, plays a big part in that equation. Officials explained that before the school was forced into a full-scale conversion to distance learning as a response to the social distancing and other restrictions that have been put into place as a response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, 88 percent of EGCC’s students were taking at least one online course.

All students have to do to become eligible for the program and summer classes, which begin June 1, is to have completed a 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid form and an online application. Much of the money to cover the cost of the program will come from the nearly $1 million the school will receive from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Monday’s announcement from EGCC is more good news for higher education in our region. Last week, the Franciscan University of Steubenville announced its Step in Faith program, which will cover the remainder of tuition costs, after scholarships and grants have been applied, for the fall semester for all incoming full-time undergraduate students enrolled in its on-campus programs.

Eastern Gateway’s summer semester offers students and displaced workers a chance to get caught up and move forward, according to Michael Geoghegan, the school’s interim president, who added the programs are affordable and accessible without “sacrificing any of the rigor students, staff, faculty and employers expect.”

That it comes as no cost to students is important, and the EGCC administration and board deserve to be commended for working to make the summer guarantee program possible.

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