Ohio University grants more than $13 million to 92 percent of student body

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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series looking at the present state of scholarships at Ohio University.

The decision was between Ohio University and the University of South Carolina. Campus size, beauty, location and academic programs were all considered, but in the end, Cates Harman found himself looking at one deciding factor — cost.

South Carolina’s out-of-state tuition for a year was $36,000; OU’s was $20,000 after university scholarships. This sealed the deal for Harman, a freshman studying mechanical engineering from Baltimore, Md., who was offered about $15,000 in scholarships from OU and none from South Carolina.

“The scholarships pretty much made me come here,” Harman said, who received a $6,000 Gateway Trustee scholarship and a $9,000 Next Generation scholarship. “The absolute reason I came here was because of money.”

Harman, similar to many other OU students, receives more than one scholarship funded by OU’s General Fund of varying amounts.

OU provided financial aid to 92 percent of students in 2011–12 who demonstrated a level of need, said Craig Cornell, vice provost for Enrollment Management.

“(We’re) number one in the state of the large four-year (public universities) that have been able to provide that kind of support for our students,” Cornell said.
In 2011–12, OU gave out more than $13 million in financial aid through its

Gateway Excellence scholarship, Gateway scholarship, Gateway Trustee award and “various” award programs, according to data from the Office of Student Financial Aid.

“Various scholarships,” totaling over $2 million during the 2011-12 school year, include programs developed to bring students to OU and do not consider students’ academics, merits or needs, Cornell said.

“Various scholarships,” such as the Next Generation award Harman received, consider student relations to alumni, non-academic talent, transfer students and college/major-specific criteria.

Alternatively, OU’s Gateway program’s scholarships are awarded based on residency and merit. It is the university’s single largest scholarship program, which awarded nearly $10.8 million in the 2011-12 school year, according to data from the Office of Student Financial Aid.

The Gateway Trustee Award, which awards $6,000 per student per year, is for out-of-state students. The Gateway Scholarship, with an award amount that varies depending on test scores, is for both in and out-of-state students.

It is impossible to analyze the number of students who receive OU general fund scholarships, because some students receive more than one. OU also doesn’t keep an “unduplicated” count of how many students receive individual Gateway or “Various” scholarships, Cornell said.

Although OU scholarships don’t fully cover tuition, there are university benefits in providing partial scholarships to attract students who wouldn’t otherwise attend because OU still receives students’ general fee and tuition payments, Cornell said.

“Students get access and they can afford to come and we’re able to build our freshman class and the targeted populations we’re looking at,” Cornell said. “We can build the world on this campus … it’s definitely a win-win on both sides.”

To better attract students and retain those that are here, OU constantly reviews and alters its scholarship programs, said Valerie Miller, director of Student Financial Aid.

“I think with any scholarship fund, the desire is to attract talented students,” Miller said. “To provide opportunities where opportunities may not have been previously there for deserving students.”


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