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Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio, Oct. 30, 2023.

Opportunity Promise Award to give free tuition for local Pell Eligible students

When Lori Stewart Gonzalez, 23rd president of Ohio University, was welcomed at her Presidential Inauguration Wednesday, Oct. 18, she announced a new scholarship for students living in Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton and Washington Counties.

The Opportunity Promise Award is a renewable scholarship that allows students in surrounding counties to attend Ohio University tuition-free, according to an OU news release

To receive the Promise Award, students must graduate high school with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and be Pell Grant eligible. Students will have to submit an application for OU and for the scholarship by the early decision deadline, Nov. 15, 2023.

Not only will students attend OU tuition-free, but qualified applicants get automatic general admission to the Athens campus.

“This is an expansion of our ongoing commitment to access and affordability, and to serving the students of our region,” Gonzalez said during her address.

The pilot program will cover the remaining costs of in-state tuition and mandatory fees after Pell and other gift aid are applied during a student’s four years at OU, according to the release.

“The intent is great, especially for students who would not perceive themselves as able to afford to go to college or do not have the resources to figure out how to afford college,” Chad Springer, principal of Athens High School, said. “You know, a lot of them are first-generation students.”

Attending college free of tuition will hopefully encourage students who have never had college on their radar to apply, Springer said.

“Athens county is one of the poorest if not still the poorest county in Ohio,” Ky Sweet, a junior studying public health and minoring in environmental health science and anthropology, said. 

Sweet graduated from Athens High School in 2021. Sweet said that many people that she went to high school with had not even thought of college because of financial reasons.

“I think that it's going to help a lot of people continue their education beyond Athens High which is definitely necessary,” Sweet said.

Springer said that not only will this open opportunities for high school students, but it will also help the Athens community.

“If we have more people from this area, whose families live in this area, able to go to college and remain in this area, it is beneficial to the greater Athens area,” Springer said. “In lieu of students pursuing a degree here and then moving five states away, which is great, but we want to invest in our community also.”


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