A new report criticizes Miami University, the University of Dayton and five other schools for serving fewer Pell Grant-eligible students than similar universities enroll.
Education Reform Now, a non-profit think tank focused on public education improvements, reports that 30 percent of college students in Ohio are eligible for the grant, which goes to students from households with income of less than $60,000 a year.
But the Pell enrollment fell below that 30 percent at seven Ohio universities for 2015 to 2017:
• University of Dayton, 13.2%
• Miami, 10.9%
• Ohio State, 16.7%
• Case Western Reserve, 13%
• Kenyon College, 9.4%
• Oberlin College, 9.5%
• College of Wooster, 17.3%
Ohio Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner said the DeWine administration increased need-based financial aid through the Ohio College Opportunity Grant and continued support for College Credit Plus to help cut college expenses.
“These priorities and other initiatives provide aid and support to Ohio’s students. These include transfer students, non-traditional students, and those who attend university regional campuses. Notably, these groups of students were not included in the report,” Gardner said.
The report found that in the Big Ten, Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan State and Illinois all enroll larger shares of Pell-eligible students than these seven Ohio schools.
“Miami University of Ohio has the second lowest Pell Grant student enrollment rate in the country among public colleges,” the report found.
A Miami University spokeswoman said the ERN report failed to look at the entire picture of support Miami offers low-income students.
“Factoring in scholarships, grants and all financial aid, 29 percent of Ohio students at Miami last year paid between zero and $5,000 in tuition and fees to attend the Oxford campus,” spokeswoman Claire Wagner said.
“Beyond welcoming and enrolling students from a variety of backgrounds, abilities and interests, Miami focuses on outcomes. Miami has the second highest graduation rate of Pell grant-receiving students at Ohio public universities at 71 percent.”
Still, state Rep. Catherine Ingram, D-Cincinnati, called the ERN report findings “disturbing.”
“We all lose when our best institutions of higher education are not serving their fair share of qualified students from working-class and low-income families,” said state Rep. Catherine Ingram, D-Cincinnati, in a letter to Gardner.
University of Dayton reported that 18 percent of its class of 2023 are Pell-eligible students and the university provides support for students through graduation.
“The University of Dayton continuously invests in student success through faculty advisors and other campus-wide efforts, as well as with our fixed net-price tuition plan, which ensures students know the full cost of their degree upfront and will not be surprised by exorbitant fees. These efforts have helped more students graduate on time, including our Pell Grant-eligible students, whose six-year graduation rate is 75% for the class that entered in fall 2013,” said UD Vice President Jason Reinoehl.
Pell Grant-eligible freshmen enrollment is higher than 30% at these Ohio universities: Central State, 87.2%; Cleveland State, 45.1%; University of Akron, 41%; and Wright State, 41.2%.
Ohio State University spokesman Ben Johnson said “The Buckeye Opportunity Program, which began in Columbus in fall 2018 and expanded to regional campuses in spring 2019, ensures that Ohio students who qualify for Pell Grants receive an aid package that covers the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees. On the Columbus campus, there were more than 1,300 Pell eligible students in last fall’s incoming class, up nearly 8 percent from the previous year. .”
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