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Even after adjusting for inflation, the average cost of college today is two to three times higher than it was 30 years ago. Costs are increasing faster than financial aid, which means students and their families bear a greater portion of the cost themselves.
The good news for Ohio residents is there are a lot of additional scholarships, grants, and student loans that might be available to help them pay for tuition and fees. Read on to find out how to access these funds.
Getting Financial Aid for College in Ohio
Most applications for financial aid ask the same basic types of information. Before you get started, it’s best to try to gather and organize all of the information you might need. You might even want to start making a financial aid folder the year before applying.
You’ll need to submit a form known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is available online and is used to calculate your family’s expected contribution to your college expenses. The FAFSA requires the Social Security numbers of the parents and student, tax returns and W-2 forms, bank statements, and investment account statements.
The expected family contribution formula is available online each year if you want to get a head start calculating an estimate. Basically, if your family makes a lot of money, has a lot of investments, and you are the only child attending college, you can anticipate your expected family contribution to be quite high. Need-based financial aid is the difference between the total cost of attendance minus the expected family contribution.
Most people find the expected family contribution differs considerably from what their family is actually able to contribute. Some families may simply refuse to contribute anything at all. Unfortunately, the calculation for need-based aid does not account for willingness.
Ohio Student Loans
While some states offer their own state-based student loan programs, the state of Ohio does not have one. Ohio used to work with a company called Student Lending Works, an agency created by the state of Ohio to offer discounted federal student loans to students. That program ended in 2010 and has not been replaced.
There are, however, a variety of state-based banks offering private student loans for Ohio residents.
Ohio Educational Credit Union
The Ohio Educational Credit Union was established in 1933 as the Cleveland Teachers Credit Union. Today, the credit union is a full-service financial institution that also provides private student loans to its members.
- Eligibility: The borrower must meet the credit requirements set by the credit union, so students may need a parent to cosign the loan application in order to be approved.
- Loan Limits: The minimum loan amount is $1,000, and a student can borrow up to a total of $75,000 for their undergraduate education.
- Perks: Students and their families also have access to a personal college financial counselor to answer questions about financial aid and borrowing options.
KEMBA Financial Credit Union
Founded in 1933 as a credit union to serve the needs of employees of the Kroger Company, the original branch was inside a Kroger bakery. Today, KEMBA Financial Credit Union is the largest credit union in Central Ohio.
- Eligibility: Borrowers must qualify for a private student loan through the credit union, so students might need a parent or family member to cosign the loan with them.
- Loan Limits: Students can borrow up to a total of $75,000 for their entire undergraduate education. Interest rates currently start at 6.25%.
- Perks: Student loans have a clause allowing cosigners to be released from their obligation after the borrower makes a specified number of on-time payments.
Directions Credit Union
In 1953, a group of parishioners at St. Clement’s Church in Toledo, Ohio, established a credit union with its headquarters in the church basement. Today, that credit union has grown into Directions Credit Union with over 75,000 members throughout Ohio.
- Eligibility: The credit union recommends students include a parent or family member as a cosigner since this increases the probability of getting the loan request approved and obtaining the best interest rates.
- Loan Limits: Undergraduate students can borrow up to $75,000 toward the total cost of their education. Annual percentage rates currently start at 6%.
- Perks: While in school, borrowers can choose to pay interest only, principal and interest, or defer payments entirely until they are no longer enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student.
Ohio Scholarships for College Students
If you search long enough, you can find college scholarships out there based on area of study, location, family heritage, parent employment, and just about anything else you can imagine. The hunt for scholarships has become so competitive that some families hire professional counselors to assist in their search.
For Ohio residents, there are a lot of scholarship resources online through the Ohio Department of Higher Education, as well as other national scholarship websites. Many organizations sponsor Ohio scholarships, so parents should inquire if their employers or community groups award scholarship money. You should also consult with your high school guidance counselor about Ohio scholarship opportunities.
NIADA Foundation Regional Scholarship
- Amount: $3,500
- Requirements: Awarded to students who have displayed outstanding abilities in education. An essay is part of the application.
- Website: https://www.niada.com/foundation_scholarship.php
Ohio EPA Scholarship
- Amount: $2,500
- Requirements: Students must be committed to a career in environmental science or environmental engineering and have a GPA of at least 3.0. Letters of recommendation are part of the application.
- Website: http://www.ohiosci.org/oeef-scholarship/
Zinggia Ohio Art Scholarship
- Amount: $2,000
- Requirements: Awarded to an Ohio student pursuing a degree in the visual arts. Students must have a GPA of at least 3.0.
- Website: http://zinggia.com/artscholarship/
Ames B. Simmons Scholarship
- Amount: $1,500
- Requirements: Students must have a GPA of at least 3.0 and take four years of English, three years of math and science, and two years of social studies and foreign language courses.
- Website: https://www.ncpafoundation.org/scholarships/simmons.shtml
Department President’s Scholarship
- Amount: $1,000 or $1,500
- Requirements: The student must be a veteran or a direct descendant of an honorably discharged veteran.
- Website: https://www2.ed.gov/programs/psp/eligibility.html?exp=0
Ohio College Grants
Ohio scholarships and grants are both forms of financial aid that students do not have to repay. While scholarships are merit-based, grants are usually based on financial need. Online resources and high school guidance counselors are good resources to help find Ohio college grants.
Ohio College Opportunity Grant
- Amount: Up to $3,000
- Requirements: Awarded to Ohio residents pursuing an associate degree, first bachelor’s degree, or nursing diploma program at an eligible Ohio or Pennsylvania college. Applicants should have an expected family contribution of $2,190 or less and a maximum household income of $96,000.
- Website: https://www.ohiohighered.org/ocog
RCF, Inc. College Scholarship Grant Program
- Amount: $525
- Requirements: Applicants must be residents of Richland County, Ohio. Grants are based upon financial need, but students must meet scholarship expectations. New applicants should have a GPA of at least 2.5 and returning applicants must have a GPA of at least 2.0. Students must submit the grant application, student aid report, and a copy of their grades.
- Website: https://www.richlandcountyfoundation.org/grants-and-scholarships/grants
Author: Kimberly Goodwin, PhD