Ds Scholarship

OU scholarship covers costs for some regional campus students

More than 150 incoming freshmen at Ohio University’s regional campuses will have the full cost of their tuition and fees covered this upcoming fall thanks to a new scholarship.

Ohio University President Hugh Sherman announced in a virtual livestream event Wednesday afternoon that the university will launch the OHIO Regional Promise program beginning this fall, which will allow regional campus students to “earn a degree for free,” he said.

The scholarship will be available to Pell-eligible, full-time freshmen with a minimum 3.0 high school GPA and will cover the remaining cost of tuition and fees to earn a degree at one of OU’s five regional campuses. Beyond Ohio University’s main campus in Athens, the university has campuses in Chillicothe, Lancaster, Zanesville, Ironton and St. Clairsville.

“Ohio University is committed to making the college experience more accessible in every regional campus community we serve through the new OHIO Regional Promise program,” Sherman said. “This new program provides greater access to help our region’s students and families meet their educational goals without incurring unnecessary debt.”

Related: ‘It feels like a bigger wall’: For some rural Ohio students, college is a distant dream

A student enrolled at OU’s Athens campus can expect to pay about $12,840 a year in tuition and fees alone, where a regional campus student pays about $6,000 a year.

That’s about $24,000 for a four-year degree, or as Jarrod Tudor, OU Lancaster’s dean of campus and community relations, likes to say, about the price of a mid-size sedan.

Although that price tag can still seem steep to some students, Tudor said the return on that investment “can be well over $1 million over the course of someone’s life.”

“The sheer number of first-generation students who will be able to take advantage of this is incredible,” Tudor said. “Many of those students really, really depend on being able to access higher education through affordability.”

Eliminating cost barriers will also help close Ohio’s workforce gap, Tudor said, especially in high-demand fields like nursing and respiratory therapy.

Roberta Milliken, dean of Ohio University Chillicothe, said the scholarship program is “a godsend” for the regional campus students and the communities in which they reside.

Many of the students attending regional campuses have a number of other obligations like caring for a family or working a full-time job, or have had to put college off because the COVID-19 pandemic, Millliken said. This scholarship helps alleviate some of those extra pressures and helps students achieve their dreams, Milliken said.

The scholarship is renewable for up to four years, and students will also be eligible for a guaranteed One OHIO scholarship if they choose to finish their degree at OU’s Athens campus.

The One OHIO scholarship is a $5,000 scholarship, which can be renewed annually. It would replace the OHIO Regional Promise Award for eligible students who begin their studies at a regional campus and relocate to Athens to complete their degree.

Students are eligible for the One OHIO scholarship after they complete at least one “successful year of study,” Sherman said. Both scholarships require continued continuous enrollment at Ohio University, excluding summers.

“We want to ensure that all families in our region, including those who qualify for any level of Pell grant, know that an (Ohio University) education is within their reach,” said Nicole Pennington, executive dean for regional higher education and dean of OU’s Southern campus in Ironton.

To see if they are eligible, students must apply to one of OU’s regional campuses and submit 2022-23 FAFSA results to the university by May 15. Application fees at the regional campuses have been waived until the deadline.

More: ‘Mission drift’: Who do rural Ohio’s higher education institutions serve?

Sheridan Hendrix is ​​a higher education reporter at the Columbus Dispatch. You can reach her at shendrix@dispatch.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @sheridan120. Sign up for her Mobile Newsroom newsletter here.

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