Ithaka S+R has announced our latest effort to improve access to higher education: the Ohio College Comeback Compact. Through this first-of-its-kind collaboration, 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.

Our Ithaka S+R team, along with the Ohio Department of Higher Education and College Now Greater Cleveland, are supporting eight public colleges and universities working together to offer students this opportunity. Participants are Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, Kent State University, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Stark State College, The University of Akron, and Youngstown State University.

In short, students who studied at one of the eight institutions and have an unresolved debt balance are being invited back with financial and advising support. Comeback institutions will forgive up to $5,000 of institutional debt and release transcripts for former students who re-enroll in their own or any other participating institution. On the back-end, cross-institutional payments will account for students who enroll somewhere other than their previous institution to ensure that the Compact benefits everyone involved.

The Compact is based on Ithaka S+R’s research, which estimates that 6.6 million individuals nationally have “stranded credits,” meaning credits that students have earned but cannot access because their former institution is holding their transcript as collateral for an unpaid balance to the institution, an issue that disproportionately affects students of color and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Read the Ithaka S+R announcement and visit Ohio College Comeback Compact for more information.