What do you think of when you think of Ohio? Do you think of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland? Do you think of Lake Erie? Do you think of its various sports teams including the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Cincinnati Reds or the Cleveland Browns?

That may be the case, but what you should think of is all the great colleges and universities in the state. Within Ohio’s 44,825 sq. miles of land, there are well over 55 high-quality public and private colleges and universities to choose to attend. Moreover, the state also offers various types of financial aid programs to help its in-state residents attend in-state postsecondary institutions.

Choose Ohio First Program

The Buckeye State is actively making a push to strengthen students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields to help improve the state’s workforce and economy. In turn, the Choose Ohio First Program (COF) was created by the state legislature.

The program is integrated and correlates with the state’s regional economies and educational needs. It also plays a role in helping underrepresented students get involved with STEM fields. Some of these fields include—but are not limited to—aerospace, medicine, computer technology and alternative energy.

Many of the colleges, universities and community colleges in the state are eligible for its students to be enrolled in the COF program. Each postsecondary institution is responsible for administering the scholarship funds from the COF program and each institution has its own eligible majors for the program.

To apply for the program, a student must visit their school’s program director to learn more about the school’s application procedures.

To be eligible for the COF program though, a student must:

  • Be an undergraduate Ohio resident or an Ohio resident returning to Ohio for graduate school after completing their undergraduate program elsewhere,
  • Be enrolled as a full-time or part-time student at an eligible Ohio postsecondary institution,
  • Be majoring in one of the postsecondary institution’s eligible COF-programs of study, and
  • Be a first-year student (a first-time, degree-seeking student at the institution) at the date of initial COF-cohort wards.
    • Additional years of funding can be possible if a student maintains compliance with the program’s requirements and funding continues to come in from the Ohio General Assembly.

If a student is selected for the COF program, they will receive funding (with the amount varying every academic year based on available funds) and student support services such as advising, mentoring, co-op and internship opportunities, cohort seminars and events, and research events.

Once a student has been accepted into the COF program under an eligible STEM major at the student’s postsecondary institution, the student cannot change their major, even if the change is made to another approved STEM program of study.

Ohio College Opportunity Grant

The Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) is a need-based grant program designed to help the neediest Ohio students, according to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The award is distributed by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) as well.

To apply for the OCOG, a student must simply fill out and submit their FAFSA before October 1 of each year. To be eligible for the OCOG, a student must:

  • Be an Ohio resident;
  • Be enrolled in an eligible associate degree program, their first bachelor’s degree program or a nurse diploma program;
  • Be enrolled at an eligible Ohio public, private non-profit or private for-profit postsecondary institution or an eligible Pennsylvania postsecondary institution;
  • Have a FAFSA Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) of 2190 or less; and
  • Have a maximum household income of $96,000.

The amount of funding a student receives is also based on the type of school they attend and how many credit hours the student is actively taking. A full-time student at most public colleges in Ohio can receive up to $2,200 per academic year. A full-time student at most private, non-profit colleges in Ohio can receive up to $3,700 per academic year. A full-time student at private, for-profit colleges in Ohio can receive up to $1,400 per year.

Recipients of the OCOG are limited to receiving funding for up to 10 semesters or 15 quarters. Eligible recipients who are continuously enrolled in their programs and schools can also receive an additional half or third of their respective award amounts during their third eligible semester or fourth eligible quarter.

Forever Buckeye Program

The Forever Buckeye Program is not a direct scholarship or grant program, but it can significantly help Ohio students afford college tuition.

The program is designed to give any public or private Ohio high school graduate who has left the state and now who is returning to the state to enroll in an undergraduate or graduate program at an Ohio college with in-state tuition rates without having to establish residency over the course of a 12-month period.

A student still must re-establish their Ohio residency for the program, but they do not have to wait the 12-month period to be eligible for in-state tuition rates again. They can be eligible for in-state tuition rates right away.

Every public Ohio college and university is considered an eligible institution for the program and every degree program is eligible for the program as well.

Ohio War Orphan and Severely Disabled Veterans’ Children Scholarship

The Ohio War Orphan and Severely Disabled Veterans’ Children Scholarship is a program designed to provide college tuition assistance to children of deceased or severely disabled Ohio veterans who served in the U.S. armed forces during times of war and conflict.

To be eligible for the scholarship program, a student must:

  • Be an Ohio resident,
  • Be a full-time student in an undergraduate field of study,
  • Be pursuing an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree at an eligible Ohio postsecondary institution, and
  • Be between 16 to 24 years old.

To be eligible for funding during consecutive academic years, a student must maintain a minimum, cumulative 2.00 GPA.

A student can also only receive funding for up 10 semesters or 15 quarters. There is no need to apply for the scholarship every year; as long as a student maintains the eligibility criteria, they will receive funding from the program.

The deadline to apply for the program is May 15 every year. To apply for the scholarship, a student must print out the application to complete it. The four forms a student needs to turn in with their application include:

  • The completed paper application,
  • DD214 form,
  • Student Acknowledgement Statement, and
  • Veterans Affairs Award Letter.

The applicant will then mail these four documents to the ODHE, State Grants and Scholarships Department. A student should make sure they include their email address in the application as doing so could expedite a response time from the ODHE. All applications must also be notarized and signed by the student and the student’s parent.

If a student is selected as a recipient and attends a public Ohio college, their tuition and general fees costs will be 100% covered by the program. If a student is selected as a recipient and attends a private Ohio college, they will receive up to $8,575 per academic year from the program.

Major Ohio Colleges and Universities

The Buckeye State gets its nickname from a common tree found in Ohio called the Buckeye. This tree produces nuts that look like a deer’s eyes, AKA a buck’s eyes. It is obvious the Buckeye tree is important to Ohio as the state not only gets its nickname from the tree, but one of its major college’s mascot is named after the Buckeye tree (The Ohio State University Buckeyes).

While that is one example of a major college in the state, there are plenty of other high-quality colleges and universities including:

  • Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green (public school),
  • Central State University in Wilberforce (public school),
  • Cleveland State University in Cleveland (public school),
  • Kent State University in Kent (public school),
  • Miami University in Oxford (public school),
  • Ohio Northern University in Ada (private school),
  • Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware (private school),
  • Ohio University in Athens County (public school),
  • The Ohio State University in Columbus (public school),
  • The University of Toledo in Toledo (public school), and
  • University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati (public school).

Ohio is not only full of Buckeye trees, but it is also full of great colleges and great financial aid programs as well.