"A better deal at Ohio State"
Written by Dave Claborn
“For students coming from families in the lower half of Ohio’s income distribution, it is less expensive to get a degree from The Ohio State University than it would be to go to a community college for two years.” Those, the words of Ohio State President, Dr. Michael Drake, as he spoke to the Marion Rotary Club recently.
As part of an effort to address student debt and increase Ohio’s percentage of citizens with baccalaureate degrees, the university is spearheading $100 million worth of programs to encourage attendance at Ohio State—and to lower the financial burden, particularly for low and middle income families.
The new Buckeye Affordability Grant brings the cost of tuition down to zero as it fills the gap between other financial aid and the price of tuition for students eligible for Pell grants. Pell grants are federal dollars awarded to qualifying students from low and moderate income families.
Drake calls it, “neutralizing the tuition gap.” He notes that a number of colleges and universities have similar programs, but he believes Ohio State’s is the first offered to students on regional campuses with an open admissions policy. Spring semester 2019 is the first time Buckeye Affordability Grants have been available to regional campus students, including those attending Ohio State Marion.
A regional Pell-eligible student must take a full course load—at least 12 credit hours—and attain at least a 2.0 grade point average after their first semester to be eligible for the Buckeye Affordability Grant. If they are awarded the gap-filling grant, they will be eligible to receive it for the next seven semesters, no matter which Ohio State campus they attend.
This semester, the first that the grant has been available on the Marion campus, 174 students are seeing their tuition “neutralized.”
“No one else, that I know of, has done that with the admissions criteria we have,” Drake told Marion Rotarians. “We’re really excited to be able to do it and hope [the Buckeye Affordability Grant] shines a bright light on the future for even more students.”
The Buckeye Affordability Grant Program is just one of multiple Ohio State initiatives aimed at improving Ohio’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate and decreasing the cost of a higher education. They are being paid for with administrative savings and investments such as the sale of the university’s parking and energy businesses.
Two others mentioned by Drake during his Marion Rotary speech are the Tuition Guarantee Program and Completion Grants. The Tuition Guarantee Program freezes tuition at freshman rates throughout their four-year college experience. Completion Grants are last dollar grants available to college seniors that allow them to complete their final year of school and graduate.
Between the grant programs and the provision of new Apple I-Pads to all incoming freshman, Ohio State Marion students have received over $1 million in new benefits provided by the university. These are on top of the $1.2 million in campus-based scholarships awarded to Ohio State Marion students each year.
“These programs are making a difference for our students,” said Ohio State Marion Dean and Director, Dr. Greg Rose.
“It is one of the advantages we have here, being attached to a tier-one university with the stature of Ohio State,” said Rose.