COLUMBUS, Ohio -
Ohio's college students are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for their education, and with that comes skyrocketing student loan debt.
It's a vicious cycle that some education groups are trying to break.
Groups of students, teachers, and faculty members are urging Ohio's lawmakers to make changes to a major grant that helps Ohio's college students who are in need.
"While I was in community college, I had to work 40 hours a week, take night classes. It was exhausting," said Kiala Riel, a college student.
Riel is like thousands of other college students who are working hard, but still in debt.
"I have to maximize my student loans and I still struggle month to month to pay my bills," Riel said.
Members of the Ohio Student Association, the Ohio Education Association, and some other education groups, are working to get the Ohio legislature to expand the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, also known as O-COG. It's the largest source of need-based funding for the state's college students.
"It was cut from $350 million to $171 million a few years ago," said Joel Solow, of the Ohio Student Association (OSA).
Leaders from OSA are also trying to get lawmakers to not only expand the grant, but to also change it so that more community college students will be eligible to receive it. A loophole in the current law prevents more than 20,000 students from getting that grant money.
Students in Ohio are leaving college with an average of about $29,000 in student debt.
Legislation to expand the grant should be introduced later this year.