Financial Aid and Retention

Submitted by Julia Morris, morris.878

How to pay for college expenses can be one of many concerns our students have but may not be for as many as we think.

 Based on The Ohio State University OSAS – Analysis and Reporting reports for new first-year students published in September 2019, indicated the Wooster campus retention rates for students who were not eligible for need-based aid, such as the subsidized loan and Pell Grant, averaged at 74% for those entering Autumn 2017 and in 2018 after the first year.  However, two years later, that number drastically dropped.  The entering class of 2017 in Wooster dropped to a retention rate of 47.2%, whereas the three years prior it held steady at an average of 59.3% with comparable entering class numbers. (OSAS – Analysis and Reporting (No Sub loan/No Pell)

On the flip side, we had a smaller group of students that received some “need-based” aid.  Based on the same report, our students that received the subsidized loan, yet their Estimated Family Contribution number from their FAFSA was not low enough to be Pell eligible, we steadily retained 67% of them after their first year in both 2017 and 2018.  In 2017 we had 67 students enter and 58 students enter in 2018 for this category. (OSAS – Analysis and Reporting Sub Loan/No Pell)

Finally, our Pell eligible students that demonstrate the most “need-based” aid.  Our retention held steady with them at 67% after the first year in 2017 out of 94 Pell eligible entering students and 68.4% in 2018 with 95 Pell eligible entering students.  We have hovered as low as retaining 50% (2013) of our students after the first year over that past 10 years and as high as 68.4% (2018). (OSAS – Analysis and Reporting (Pell))

Financial aid Options for Wooster campus Students

Need-based financial aid  

University’s President’s Affordability Grant and Buckeye Affordability Grant, Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work-Study, and Federal Direct Subsidized Loan

Non-need based financial aid

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Internal and external scholarships are other aid opportunities for all students.  And of course, there are private loan options and the Federal Parent PLUS loan for those who need to explore those paths.  (University Student Financial Aid chart)

Many variables are taken into consideration when awarding financial aid, but the primary requirement to even be considered for any university/state/federal grants, federal work-study, or federal loans is submitting a FAFSA on time, every year (Deadline February 1st) and completing the appropriate internal/external scholarship applications annually.

If a student’s number one concern for not continuing at Ohio State ATI is due to financial aid, I recommend/discuss several things with students per their situation.  I welcome you to use this list as well or direct them to me as needed.

  1. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) status – Are they are returning student and ineligible for financial aid?  They may complete and submit a SAP appeal due to their extenuating circumstances or a self-corrected appeal!
  2. Expected Family Contribution appeal – Did their family’s income drastically change from when they submitted the FAFSA?  We have an appeal for this too!
  3. Student loan options – Some students simply overlook their Award Summary/To Do List and do not complete all the steps in accepting their federal student loans and completing the Stafford Promissory Note and Stafford Entrance Counseling.
  4. Private Loan optionsFASTChoice is a great tool that OSU offers students to explore private loans (keeping in mind that most students may need a co-signer).
  5. Financial Aid Verification – Have they completed the items needed for their financial aid to disburse?
  6. Enroll in the Tuition Option Payment Plan (TOPP) - $30 enrollment fee; divides semester balance into 4 monthly payments.
  7. Conversations with parent/guardian – Is now the right time to start college/continue college based on the family’s financial situation?  Are parents willing and able to support their student financially?
  8. Scholarships – Students can continue to apply for Ohio State ATI/CFAES scholarships and OSU Special Scholarships annually.  External scholarships are offered for new and continuing students as well.
  9. Check OSU email – Do so on a regular basis for personal and student-wide financial aid information.

If you read this far, I thank you.  Financial aid can have a lot of strings attached and I am here to help our students to the best of my abilities in efforts to guide them through and hopefully retain them to graduation.  Please feel free to send them my way at any time.  If you are interested in reading more, I found this quick read on Three Ways that Financial Aid Can Improve Student Retention.