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Tre’s Takes: OU should acknowledge diversity, inclusion when awarding scholarships

College students, myself included, simply don’t have the luxury of being able to afford college without scholarships and grants, given the grievances of taking out loans.

With loans that must be repaid, college students who attend public universities borrow an average of $30,030 to obtain a four-year degree.

With an average number that high, Ohio University should consider giving out more scholarships; not merit based, but diversity-and-inclusion-based for underrepresented minority groups here on campus who cannot afford our tuition rates.

With minority students struggling to afford higher education, the premise of more scholarship opportunities would also diversify the university and potentially increase enrollment rates, which have been steadily decreasing. From Fall of 2014 to 2020, the university saw a 15.6% decline in enrollment rates. From Spring 2015 to 2021, that number was 18.3%.

According to Ohio University’s Diversity Dashboard, with a total enrollment of 28,770 for the Fall of 2021, minority students composed only 15.1% of the total OU population. Historically, with a campus that is largely white, in order to increase its diversity, the university should focus on giving more scholarships to minority students, which could help boost enrollment rates. 

Minority students must also balance working and family responsibilities alongside getting their degrees to pay for their schooling. With these obligations, Black students often must drop out of school because of debt and expenses.

69% of African Americans who enrolled in college but did not finish said that they left college because of high student loan debt, as opposed to 43% of white students who cited the same reason.

As a current minority undergraduate student, I often wonder how fortunate I was to be accepted into OU, despite my financial woes. Even with the scholarships that I was offered, only one of those was granted to me based on my status as a minority and I'm still covering out-of-pocket tuition and expenses because of the lack of aid I was granted by OU.

On top of the thousands of dollars I’ll have to pay the government back for loans, I still owe the university upwards of $2,000 a semester because of extra fees, housing and my meal plan. I work about four days a week, while fulfilling my responsibilities as a full-time college student, just to pay my balance every semester with little support from my family.

My family had always expressed to me that I had to go to school and acquire a better education, because for people of color, that is deemed a necessity. However, when college is outrageously expensive for students of color and Black students, it seems like yet another setback.

The university should consider the hardships that many of their students, specifically minority students, must face to get through school when their families preach higher education. 

Tre Spencer is a sophomore studying photojournalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Tre know by tweeting him @trerspencer1.

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