Scholarships handed out by Otterbein University have increased at a quicker rate than their tuition in recent years.
According to Otterbein's 990 tax forms, since 2011, there has been a 27.7% increase in the amount of scholarships given out while the tuition rate has increased by 17%. A factor in a lower tuition increase is because between the years 2014 to 2019, there was no change in the tuition, freezing at $31,424.
The yearly tuition was recommended by Administrations and approved by the Board of Trustees. Recently, the university established a $600 limit on a tuition increase in a given academic year. This is to secure students from receiving an extreme increase in tuition all at once.
“Otterbein tries to respond to the financial impact that families are having at any given time, if the student body financially has been impacted through COVID or change in jobs, then you will see financial aid for the university grow.” said Kirsten Crotte, senior director of enrollment and financial aid.
Financial aid at Otterbein is awarded on an “individual student level,” said Crotte. Some of the factors that influence a student’s financial aid package are academic strength and need of the family.
The Financial Aid Office used the admission application submitted by students and the data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine those factors.
Along with the increases in scholarships handed out by the university came a new program that provides financial assistance for low-income families. According to Dr. John Comerford, president of Otterbein University, the new program is made possible by increases in the federal Pell Grant and Ohio College Opportunity Grant.
“We felt that we could make an additional commitment to say, if a student is eligible for the Pell Grant and the [Ohio College Opportunity Grant], we would get them to tuition without consideration for loans,” said Crotte.
Otterbein reported that they distributed $38,340,451 in scholarships during the 2021 academic year. In comparison to the other OAC schools, Otterbein has the fifth highest reported amount in awarded scholarship for the 2021 academic year. John Carroll University reported to award the highest amount of scholarship with $72,012,488 for the 2021 academic year.
“You wouldn’t be able to take that number and divide it by the number of students we have…you have the other need-based piece,” said Crotte. “This student is high achieving and they have need, so we’re giving them more because they have financial need. So, it is not evenly distributed.”
Crotte said students should not expect for tuition to continue to increase by $600 in the following years.
The Board of Trustees will vote on the tuition rates for the following year this fall.
While scholarships handed out within recent years have increased quicker than tuition, this year’s statistics are yet to be released as the most recent Otterbein tax form is from 2021.