Tens of thousands of college students in Northeast Ohio who left school without a degree and owe money to their former college, now have a pathway back to settle the debt and continue their education.

As a part of the Ohio College Comeback Compact, an innovative program to help students who left college without a degree continue their education, Youngstown State University is among eight public colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio providing a path back to higher education and an opportunity for these students to reduce or eliminate their debt.

Beginning this month, the Ohio College Comeback Compact is contacting approximately 15,000 students to come back to any public college in the region, even if they owe money and their transcript is being held because of it.

Eligible students who previously attended one of eight colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio can register for classes at any of these institutions.

As students make progress toward a degree or certificate, they can get up to $5,000 in debt owed to their former college or university forgiven.

“Ohio companies need educated workers, and that need is growing with the unprecedented number of multinational companies moving to our state,” said Randy Gardner, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The goal of the Ohio College Comeback Compact is to encourage adults to return to college to finish degrees so they can advance their careers in our growing economy.”

In addition to YSU, participating schools include Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, Kent State University, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Stark State College and the University of Akron.

The program is open to eligible students who previously attended any of the eight participating institutions, have been out of college at least a year, maintained a 2.0 cumulative GPA before they left, and owe the institution $5,000 or less.

To learn more about the program and to check eligibility, visit the Compact’s website at ohiocollegecomeback.org.