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OHIO announces new scholarship, grant program for incoming students

Demonstrating its commitment to excellence and access, Ohio University announces the debut of the OHIO Signature Awards, a set of scholarships and grants that are being awarded to first-year students admitted to the University for fall 2014.

The OHIO Signature Awards include more than $2.1 million in new scholarships and grant aid for first-year students – a 20 percent increase in financial aid provided by the University. This new and expanded financial aid program includes generous merit-based scholarships, supportive need-based grants, and a set of awards unique to OHIO that blends both merit- and need-based criteria.

“We know that a college education is one of the most important investments a student and a family can make,” said Craig Cornell, vice provost for enrollment management. “Under the OHIO Signature Awards program, families considering investing in an Ohio University education can expect to see more students being awarded financial aid. The average aid package is also increasing, thereby increasing the overall discount rate provided to incoming students.”

The program is the result of the 2012-13 Student Scholarship Task Force, which was commissioned by Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit and chaired by Cornell. Benoit charged the task force with developing a more sophisticated and strategic scholarship model that included greater flexibility in targeting specific student populations while increasing OHIO’s competitiveness for student enrollment. Ohio University led the state in enrollment growth this past fall and set enrollment records for its freshman class with the largest application pool and the largest, most diverse and highest quality first-year class in the University’s history.

“Craig Cornell and members of the task force have developed a new scholarship and grant program that will greatly enhance our ability to support academically promising students whose families need help paying for college,” said Benoit. “We are implementing this program to help those students successfully complete a degree at Ohio University.”

According to Cornell, the OHIO Signature Awards are replacing the University’s Gateway Awards Program while incorporating some of the most charitable components of that program. The OHIO Signature Awards program will be phased in over the next four years.

The OHIO Signature Awards include eight new awards designed to recognize the outstanding achievements and contributions of the fall 2014 first-year class and to attract students who have demonstrated academic potential.

All first-year students who are new to Ohio University’s Athens Campus in fall 2014 are eligible to become an OHIO Signature Scholar, and first-year students who are admitted to the University by Feb. 1 are automatically being considered for the OHIO Signature Awards. Eligibility for the awards is based on academic merit, financial need and/or contributions made to the academic, demographic or geographic diversity of the OHIO community.

“About two-thirds of all Ohio University students receive some type of financial aid,” said Valerie Miller, director of student financial aid and scholarships. “The OHIO Signature Awards represent a significant growth in both dollars and the number of recipients for need-based aid programs, reaching further into the middle class.”

The debut of the OHIO Signature Awards is the University’s latest initiative aimed at supporting academic excellence while maintaining affordability.

This past summer the University announced the launch of the Undergraduate Scholarship Investment Program, through which Ohio University has committed $25 million to strengthen its endowed scholarship program by matching 50 cents on every dollar donated to eligible scholarship endowments housed within The Ohio University Foundation.

Also this past summer, the University’s Board of Trustees approved plans to implement a guaranteed tuition program – the OHIO Guarantee – that allows students to pay a single tuition, room and board, and fees rate for a fixed period of time – in most cases, four years. This approach would provide families greater certainty when budgeting for college, provide OHIO students with an incentive to graduate in four years, and provide the University greater financial predictability and transparency. The OHIO Guarantee is expected to be implemented in the fall of 2015, pending approval by the Ohio Board of Regents and the Legislature and adoption by the OHIO Board of Trustees.