Grove City residents attending or planning to enroll at Ohio Dominican University are eligible to apply for scholarships through the city's Higher Education Investment Program.

Ohio Dominican is the third college or university to partner with Grove City for the program. The others are Columbus State Community College and Ohio Christian University.

The program offers $1,000 scholarships per semester for full-time undergraduate and graduate students, those taking at least 12 credit hours per semester, and $500 tuition payments to part-time students, with six to 11 credits.

Qualifying students can reapply for scholarships each semester and receive up to $12,000 in total scholarship money.

To be eligible, students must prove residency within Grove City's corporation limit, attend one of the three schools and agree to perform 10 hours of qualified community service or to live in Grove City for three years after their last scholarship award.

Students also must maintain at least a 2.0 grade-point average each semester.

Adding ODU as a partner only strengthens the scholarship program and gives residents more options in furthering their education, Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said.

"This program is providing a benefit to our residents and encouraging more of them to stay in Grove City," he said.

"We're excited to be partnering with Grove City," said John Naughton, Ohio Dominican's associate vice president for graduate and adult enrollment.

The program benefits the school, students and city alike, he said.

"It's another way to help our students balance the cost of a college education," Naughton said.

"It allows us to further our presence in Grove City while helping Grove City to retain a strong talent base," he said. "It also allows us to keep a larger alumni presence within the central Ohio community."

The university "is always looking for ways to attract students ...," Naughton said.

The university currently partners with South-Western City Schools in a program that allows district teachers to participate in Ohio Dominican's master's in education and educational leadership programs on-site at the South-Western Career Academy, he said.

"They can further their professional development through our program without having to come to our Sunbury Road campus," Naughton said.

Each college participating in the Higher Education program has a presence in Grove City.

Ohio Dominican University holds classes at the career academy, 4750 Big Run South Road, and Ohio Christian University offers courses at the Grove City Church of the Nazarene, 4770 Hoover Road.

Columbus State's Grove City Regional Center also is at the career academy.

Students who receive scholarship money from Grove City can attend classes at any of the participating schools' campuses.

The annual application deadlines are July 1 for fall semester, Nov. 1 for winter/spring semesters and April 1 for summer semester.

Grove City's council approves the funding of approved applications.

The program began offering scholarships for the fall 2016 semester and grants totaling $169,000 have been provided to 111 participants.

Applicants who aren't already attending one of the participating schools must apply to the school separately.

Along with serving to keep residents in Grove City, the city is looking to the Higher Education Investment Program as a first step in having a college or university open its own brick-and-mortar building in the city, Stage said.

"We're continuing to work on that goal and it's something we're hoping to accomplish in the near future," he said.

Berry, who sponsored the original legislation in 2015 to establish the Higher Education Investment Program and serves as an ex-officio member of the scholarship committee, said he believes the program has been a boon for the community.

"You hear talk every four years from national politicians about 'free tuition' and 'free college' but Grove City isn't just giving lip service -- we're doing something about it," Berry said.

"It's an economic-development tool we're offering to people to help them improve their education and their career opportunities," Berry said. "We have a shortage of trained, skilled labor not only in Grove City but across Ohio.

"We're retaining a talented base of people in Grove City who are continuing to live, work and pay taxes in the city, so there is a strong return rate on our $1,000 investment," he said. "I think that for every dollar we're investing, we're getting $10 back.

More information about the program and a link to the application form is available at grovecityohio.gov.

Berry said he is working with the administration to craft legislation to create a similar program for people in the trade industries, including plumbing, electrical and pipefitting.

While the final details of the legislation are still being worked out, Berry said the idea is to provide funds "to help give them (applicants) the tools they need" whether it be to help pay the cost of joining trade organizations required to get jobs or defray some of the cost of education or training needed for their profession.

He said he plans to present the legislation to council within the next few weeks.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAfroman