Portman’s bill a plus for area

To the editor:

On Aug. 16, Eastern Gateway Community College hosted a roundtable discussion with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman to discuss his bipartisan bill to expand Pell Grant eligibility to cover high quality and rigorous short-term job training programs so workers can afford the skills training and credentials they need for today’s job market.

This legislation means even more for Eastern Gateway Community College because Pell Grants are central to our innovation in online learning. By leveraging these grants, Eastern Gateway has helped countless students take classes on campus and online — at little or no cost to them or their families.

The online program is now helping thousands of Ohioans realize their dreams of going back to school. It has broken the barriers of time and money so that people who need a degree in order to advance their careers have the chance to earn one.

However, it also has strengthened Eastern Gateway’s campus right here in Steubenville. Our college’s online programs have enabled Eastern Gateway to hire 700 Ohio faculty and 100 local support staff, while preserving jobs for current faculty and staff.

With student debt reaching crisis levels and the need for higher education to be more responsive to the needs of regional work force development issues, Portman’s legislation and continued innovation by Eastern Gateway will provide more Ohioans gateways to the American dream.

Gary R. Coulter