By Denise Dick
Forty-six Mahoning Valley students are taking advantage of free tuition offered by Eastern Gateway Community College.
“We’re very pleased with it,” said Ann Koon, Eastern Gateway spokeswoman. “It shows that students are becoming more aware of the grant.”
The number includes first- and second-year students; 16 Valley students took advantage of the grant last year.
The college saw its enrollment increase 15 percent this fall compared with fall 2012. The students at the Valley Center in downtown Youngstown as well as locations in Warren, Columbiana County and other parts of Mahoning County are part of that, Koon said.
Enrollment is 2,816 this fall, up from 2,532 for fall 2012. Tuition costs about $2,736 annually based on a 12-hour course load.
The Gateway Grant allows students to attend Eastern Gateway tuition-free if they go to school full time by the fall after graduating from a high school in Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana county.
They also apply for the Pell Grant and use any awarded funds before the Gateway Grant is applied.
Students must have a minimum 2.5 grade-point average upon high-school graduation.
The grant is good for four semesters of full-time attendance over two years. It funds only tuition.
Students may attend either the Valley Center or the Jefferson County Campus, and many from Columbiana County opt to take classes in Steubenville.
Of the 46 taking advantage of the grant this year, East Liverpool saw the highest number with 14. Seven students from Canfield, four from Poland and three each from Wellsville and Youngstown received Gateway Grants.
Grants awarded total $71,898.
Most of the recipients — 19 — are pursuing associate degrees in general studies.
Business management follows at a distant second with four grant recipients.