University leadership recently announced the creation of the Opportunity Scholarship. This scholarship will be available to all Pell Grant-eligible students enrolling in the fall of 2019. It will cover remaining tuition expenses for each student after federal grant and loan money has been leveraged.

According to the Federal Student Aid website, the maximum federal Pell Grant award is $6,095 for the 2018–19 school year. Otterbein's average out-of-pocket tuition expenses are estimated to be about $14,000 to $15,000 per student. 

Some may consider this total to be a lot of money for the university to pay, but I don't believe it's logical to expect a student of lower socioeconomic status to afford paying this much either. 

Students of lower socioeconomic status are at a severe financial disadvantage compared to students from higher-income families. Access to higher education just isn't as feasible for them. 

          

Still, I believe all students should have the opportunity to attend college if they wish to do so. Financial issues shouldn't be the only thing holding people back. 

If a student has good grades, determination, and a desire to further their education, I believe there is some financial responsibility by universities to help students achieve their educational goals, regardless of a student's economic status. 

While the money for the Opportunity Scholarship is funded partly by the university's tuition revenue, I believe it is a small price to pay to level the playing field for students of lower socioeconomic status. 

          

Concerns were brought up regarding Otterbein's capacity to support students struggling with socioeconomic barriers. I understand this concern,  due to potential situations of food insecurity and textbook affordability. 

However, campus resources such as the Promise House, which is Otterbein’s student-led food pantry, and the Project Textbook Task Force will help to offset these concerns.

The Opportunity Scholarship will contribute to Otterbein's commitment to equal education opportunity. The value behind bringing students of diverse backgrounds to campus is something I don't think we can ever afford to lose, no matter the cost.