Otterbein Partners with Central Ohio Employers to Offer Scholarships

Posted Mar 29, 2021

Otterbein University is partnering with major employers in central Ohio to offer a special educational benefit — The Otterbein Advantage Scholarship. Through this exclusive program, employees of partnering organizations and their dependent children will qualify for a scholarship that provides the excellence of a private university education at public school prices. 

“Most employers offer educational benefits for employees, but not to their dependents,” said Otterbein President John Comerford. “The Otterbein Advantage Scholarship allows companies to offer a benefit to both employees and their dependents and gives Otterbein access to a new group of prospective students.” 

The Otterbein Advantage Scholarship will offer qualifying employees and their dependents a $19,000 scholarship — a 58% discount off of Otterbein’s 2020-2021 tuition — renewable for four years of undergraduate education as long as the employee or guardian remains with a partner organization. Graduate scholarships are also available. Program details vary by partner.  

Otterbein conceived this partnership model in 2018 with a similar scholarship offered to the dependents Columbus City Schools (CCS) employees.  

“Otterbein had a special financial aid program for Columbus City Schools graduates but realized that the children of district employees, including janitors, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers, whose children went to school outside the district didn’t benefit, so the new program was born,” said Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, vice president for enrollment management. 

Since the program was reimagined as the Otterbein Advantage Scholarship in 2020, several partners have signed on, including Nationwide Children’s, OhioHealth, Franklin County, City of Westerville, Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), g2o, and Knox Community Hospital. More partnerships are being negotiated.  

“We selected organizations that have more than 350 employees,” said Erin Bender, executive director of The Point and corporate partnerships. “The Otterbein Advantage Scholarship has been well-received by companies we have approached. If these companies can offer an educational benefit to their employees’ dependents and other employers do not, it could be a game changer for their employee retention,” she said. 

OhioHealth was one of the first to partner with Otterbein to offer the scholarship. 

“Supporting OhioHealth associates in their professional development and career growth has always been a priority at OhioHealth. Our long-standing partnership with Otterbein University allows us to offer unique benefits like reduced rates and career enhancing programs to our associates as part of that support,” said Kathleen Hickey, manager of OhioHealth Learning. 

“Now these programs are extending to dependents, spouses, and domestic partners which furthers the social and economic wellbeing of not only our associates, but the greater community we serve, as well. We’re excited to be extending our partnership with Otterbein in this way,” Hickey added. 

For its part, Otterbein wants to send the message to a new group of prospective students that an Otterbein education is affordable.  

“Many of these employees make too much to qualify for need-based aid, but not enough to pay full tuition,” Bender said. “We want families in the region and beyond to give Otterbein a look. We can meet these students where they are and support thier educational aspirations.” 

Currently, 145 students have been admitted to Otterbein under this scholarship program.  

Companies who are interested in partnering with Otterbein to offer the Otterbein Advantage Scholarship to their employees can contact Erin Bender at  

Students who want more information about The Otterbein Advantage Scholarship can contact the Otterbein Office of Admission at or