COTC to Offer Free College for Eligible Knox County Residents

New high school graduates and adults of all ages can benefit


Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) promises to transform the lives of more students by making free college a reality for eligible Knox County residents. Through its ambitious new Knox Promise, COTC guarantees to fund the gap between tuition (instructional and general fees) and remaining student need after all other private scholarships, institutional, federal and state aid are exhausted. The Knox Promise will be available to eligible students starting in COTC’s upcoming autumn semester, which begins on Aug. 24.

The bold move will allow more Knox County residents – especially those who thought that college was not a possibility – to prepare to join the workforce of the future and find fulfilling long-term careers.

Who is eligible?
  • Under the program, all tuition will be covered for students annually reporting a household income of $60,000 or less on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • The Knox Promise is open to new, current or returning COTC students who do not already hold a bachelor’s or associate degree.
  • Eligible students must be current Knox County residents who have lived in the county for at least one year.
  • Recipients must be enrolled in an aid-eligible COTC degree or certificate program at any COTC campus or online.
How it works
  • Knox County residents who apply to COTC, are admitted and complete the FAFSA annually are automatically considered for the Knox Promise. There is no separate application.
  • Enroll in as little as one credit hour each semester to be eligible.
  • There is no lifetime dollar limit to Promise awards.
  • Other requirements for maintaining satisfactory academic progress, such as maintaining a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA, and other federal eligibility requirements each semester, will apply.

Initial Knox Promise funds are made possible through a unique collaboration between COTC and four visionary and generous funding partners—the Ariel Foundation, the Knox County Foundation, Mark and Denise Ramser, and Gordy and Fran Yance.

3 women and 4 men standing together next to Knox Promise poster

“With this announcement, COTC reaffirms its longstanding commitment to affordability, accessibility and its student-first philosophy,” said COTC President John M. Berry, Ph.D. “This investment in the future of our community is an investment in our neighbors, children and friends. Our utmost thanks to the Ariel Foundation, Knox County Foundation, and current and former COTC board members Mark Ramser and Gordy Yance for their forward-thinking commitment to the people of Knox County.”

“COTC’s Knox Promise will provide an economic pipeline for local workforce development,” said Ariel Foundation Executive Director Jen Odenweller. “Ariel is deeply committed to serving Knox County, and we are proud to partner with COTC on this life-changing initiative.”

“I hope that many Knox residents take advantage of this incredible opportunity to gain local access to a high-tech, in-demand college education,” said Knox County Foundation Executive Director Jeffrey Scott. “The Knox Promise will not only help individuals build strong futures, it will help build a stronger future for all of Knox County.”

With 15 years between them as members of COTC’s Board of Trustees, Mark Ramser and Gordon “Gordy” Yance have seen firsthand how associate degree education at COTC can transform lives. “With the Knox Promise, a degree or certificate at COTC now holds more value and influence than ever before,” said Ramser, a devoted Knox County supporter and president of Ohio Cumberland Gas Company.

“COTC is passionately invested in student success,” said Yance, the former First-Knox National Bank president and chairman of the board. “We are incredibly excited that the Knox Promise will allow more Knox County residents to benefit from COTC’s student-first education. Its small class sizes, personal attention from expert faculty, and free academic and personal support services are the difference that makes COTC standout and COTC students so successful,” said Yance.

Learn more and get started today

Visit, call the COTC Admissions Office at 740.392.2526 or email to learn more and schedule an appointment with an admissions counselor.

Ariel Hall, COTC’s Knox campus, is located at 236 South Main Street in downtown Mount Vernon. The state-of-the-art learning center offers 15 face-to-face and distance-learning classrooms, as well as nursing, engineering technology, computer and other laboratory spaces. Students can complete several COTC associate degrees or certificates at the Knox campus, including the college’s in-demand practical nursing certificate and LPN to associate degree nursing program, as well as begin any of COTC’s more than 50 programs in healthcare, engineering technology, public services, business and information technology, and transfer degrees in arts and sciences.

The press conference will be live-streamed on the college’s YouTube channel beginning at 1 p.m. on March 7. The press conference video will be archived at the same link.

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC has four campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.