WATCH: Ohio lawmakers concerned over new university Pell Grant rate report

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COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH)– Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) is holding a press conference alongside James Murphy from Education Reform Now at the Ohio Statehouse about a new report that she says shows “a series of high quality Ohio colleges significantly under serving students from working class and low-income families” based on the percentage of enrolled students who receive Pell Grants.

Part of her letter to Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner expressing her concern says:

According to the new report, although 31 percent of college students nationwide and 30 percent of those in Ohio receive Pell Grant aid, which typically goes to students from households with incomes less than $60,000 a year, there are seven colleges in our state where the share of Pell Grant recipient ranks alarmingly below national and state averages as well as nearby competitor colleges. Consider the following:
– Case Western Reserve: 13% average Pell enrollment rate 2015-17
– Kenyon College: 9.4% average Pell enrollment rate 2015-17 (worst in Ohio)
– Miami University: 10.9% average Pell enrollment rate 2015-17 (worst Ohio public college)
– Oberlin College: 9.5% average Pell enrollment rate 2015-17 (2nd worst in Ohio)
– Ohio State University: 16.7% average Pell enrollment rate 2015-17
– College of Wooster: 17.3% average Pell enrollment rate 2015-17
– University of Dayton: 13.2% average Pell enrollment rate 2015-17

As a point of comparison, over 27 percent of Ohio University’s average freshman class are Pell Grant recipients and nearly 36 percent Ball State’s typical class are Pell recipients.

Rep. Catherine D. Ingram

RELATED: Ohio State announces it’ll cover the cost of tuition for Ohio Pell families

Rep. Ingram’s full letter:

Education Reform Now‘s report:

NBC4 reached out to Kenyon College, Oberlin College, and Miami University for a response to the report.

Kenyon College says they working to “increase socioeconomic diversity” among its students:

Kenyon recognizes the urgent need nationally and in Ohio to boost access and opportunity for lower-income students, and the College continues to take steps to address these issues on its campus. Fundamental to Kenyon’s effort to increase socioeconomic diversity is its commitment to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all its students. Kenyon has partnered with the American Talent Initiative, which aims to increase the number of academically talented low- and moderate-income students who enroll at colleges and universities with consistently high graduation rates. Increasing endowment for financial aid is a central priority of Kenyon’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, publicly launched in 2018. Additionally, Kenyon has grown programs including the Kenyon Academic Partnership and Camp IV to build pipelines for talented high school students. Work on expanding access is far from finished, but it is a challenge that Kenyon is committed to addressing.

Janet Marsden
Kenyon College Vice President for Communications

Oberlin College says 80% of their students receive financial aid, and the Pell Grant is one measure of that:

Pell Grants are valuable in that they provide need-based financial support to low-income students to promote access to postsecondary education. But the share of students who receive a Pell Grant is only one measure of a school’s commitment to serving students who need financial aid. There are many families with significant need that are above the Pell-eligible threshold. Oberlin is committed to meeting the full demonstrated need of every student, and strives to provide support for the greatest number of students. The college has seen a steady increase in the number of students requiring financial support. This year, approximately 80 percent of Oberlin students receive financial aid, totaling more than $63 million in state, federal, and institutional grants.

Scott Wargo
Director of Media Relations, Oberlin College

Miami University says the ERN report only represents a fraction of the support the school provides to working-class and low-income students:

Miami provided $6.1 million in need-based financial aid to students this year compared to the $2 million the State of Ohio provided to eligible Miami students via the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG). Factoring in scholarships, grants and all financial aid, nearly 30 percent of Ohio students at Miami last year paid between zero and $5,000 in tuition and fees to attend the Oxford campus.
Beyond welcoming and enrolling students from a variety of backgrounds, abilities and interests, Miami focuses on outcomes. Miami has the second highest graduation rate of Pell grant-receiving students at Ohio public universities at 71 percent.

Claire Wagner
Director, Miami University News and Communications

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