Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scholarship program proposed

Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted on Monday announced the creation of a $100 million scholarship program for students attending Ohio colleges and universities.

The Choose Ohio First Scholarship will be an amendment to the state operating budget for 2008-09, which is under consideration in the House. The scholarships target students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math — called "STEM" fields — and will take into consideration financial need.

Husted, R-Kettering, also announced a revision to a proposed tuition freeze that Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, introduced March 15 in his budget recommendations to the House.

"We feel this preserves affordability without sacrificing quality," and would add $134 million to the higher education budget over Strickland's budget, Husted said.

Husted's budget plans met with quick approval by state colleges and universities and Senate President Bill Harris.

"This is a great example of good ideas getting better through the deliberative process," Sinclair Community College President Steven Lee Johnson said. "(It) allows Ohio's colleges and universities the flexibility to prepare financially in the first year of the budget."

Strickland will review Husted's proposal to see how it fits with his goals.

The higher education budget change will be included in House Bill 119, the two-year state budget. The legislation is expected to be passed by the House next month.

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