The Otterbein Commitment Makes College Affordable for Ohio Students

Posted Nov 15, 2018

Opportunity Scholarship Grad

Contact: Anyone wishing more information related to the Otterbein Commitment should contact the Otterbein Office of Admissions at 614-823-1500 or

Westerville, OH-Otterbein University has announced a major new statewide affordability initiative, which has its roots in partnerships with Columbus City Schools (CCS). The Otterbein Commitment is making a 21st century liberal arts education affordable to students across the state.

The announcement was made at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, at South High School, 1160 Ann Street, Columbus. Speakers included Otterbein University President John Comerford and CCS Interim Superintendent John Stanford.

The Otterbein Commitment is a collection of new and existing programs that will expand on the University’s longstanding commitment to access and affordability.

“Otterbein wants to be a part the solution to the unsustainable rising cost of tuition,” said Comerford. “A college education should not be out of reach for the average American. That’s why Otterbein is a national leader when it comes to innovative programs and models that promote true access and affordability.”

“Education is the key to lifelong opportunity, especially in a high-tech automated economy. That’s why we’re proud that graduation numbers are continuing to rise in Columbus City Schools,” said Stanford, “and every Columbus graduate who has the desire and drive to continue their education at the university level should have that opportunity without the barriers and burden of excessive college debt.”

“We’re appreciative of Otterbein University for standing as a true partner with Columbus City Schools in empowering our students for success,” Stanford added, noting that Otterbein was one of the first to provide the Seniors-to-Sophomores program in CCS and continues to offer access to high-quality programing for both students and teachers throughout the year.

The programs included in the Otterbein Commitment are:

Tuition Transparency.

Otterbein has frozen tuition for the past five years, but parents and families understand that a tuition freeze cannot last forever. University leaders also know that the cost of a college education can be daunting enough without wondering if tuition will increase — and if it does, by how much. Otterbein’s Commitment is clear, simple, and it’s easy to understand. Tuition transparency is one part of Otterbein’s commitment to students and families to keep a college education as affordable as possible.

  • Families will know, before enrolling, how much tuition will increase each year of the student’s four-year degree. Total transparency.
  • For students enrolling Fall 2019, tuition will not increase more than $600 per year during four years as a student.
  • That means any increase will be no more than $1,800 in total during four years.
  • Additionally, student loan eligibility increases by $2,000 during the same four years to ensure students are covered.

This is true tuition transparency – no surprises and no padding.

Examine other schools and students will discover one of two models. Either the tuition rate is subject to an unknown increase each spring, or the promise of a “tuition guarantee” that locks in tuition at its highest four-year rate for a padded cost.

Opportunity Scholarship.
The Opportunity Scholarship is Otterbein’s new statewide, full-need scholarship program which will cover the direct cost of tuition, after all federal and state aid, including the federal Stafford loan, has been applied, up to the student’s full-financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for Ohio residents who are federal Pell grant recipients beginning school in Fall 2019. The Opportunity Scholarship does not cover room and board, or books.

Urban Districts Initiative.
The Urban Districts Initiative began in 2014 with Columbus City Schools, but was quickly expanded to include Southwest City Schools, Westerville City Schools and Whitehall City Schools, and now Cristo Rey, all districts with more than 35 percent of students living in poverty. The Initiative is an enhanced need-based aid model that reduces the gap between aid and expected family contribution to the smallest amount possible and has driven significant increases in enrollment of low-income students at Otterbein, as well as sparking a significant increase in student success. Additional support services for students include NEST, an early arrival orientation program and mentoring.

Columbus City Schools (CCS) Partnership.
Otterbein University works especially close with CCS. Otterbein participates in the district in Seniors-to-Sophomores program, usually taking two or three students each year. Otterbein offers a summer College Credit Plus course for CCS students that pairs an academic course with a for-credit study skills course. The University also has a STEM skills refresher course for entering students funded through a grant from Nationwide. Otterbein also partners with the district to offer Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for district teachers and Otterbein faculty. In PLCs, teachers and faculty come together to discuss issues related to pedagogy and serving students to enhance the work of both institutions.

Dependent Children of CCS District (Benefits Eligible) Employees Scholarship.
Otterbein is introducing a scholarship for the dependent children of CCS district (benefits eligible) employees that reduces the cost of an Otterbein education to the average of the state supported universities in Ohio. The Otterbein Scholarship for Children of Columbus City School (Benefits Eligible) Employees is available to any undergraduate under the age of 23 who has not completed a bachelor’s degree, whether they are applying as a new first-time, first-year student or a transfer student.

Columbus State-Otterbein Dual Admission Program (DAP).
Two campuses, one unified student experience. The Columbus State-Otterbein DAP program allows a student to earn two degrees (associate and bachelor) for less than half the cost of attending an Ohio public university. Students apply directly to the DAP program ( and are admitted to both universities. Working with a jointly funded academic advisor, students earn the CSCC Associate degree with complete confidence that every course counts towards their Otterbein bachelor’s degree. Students are encouraged to participate in Otterbein student organizations and services from their first day in the program, and do not need to complete a transfer application, as all academic data is shared as the student progresses through the program. Once the associate degree is earned with a minimum 2.75 GPA, students transition to the Otterbein campus with a $17,000 scholarship (a 53 percent discount), keeping costs low. Students in the following academic programs are eligible: Business, Communications, Education, Engineering, Allied Health, and Public Health Education. Thirty-five students are currently part of the first cohort. Students in other majors may participate in the Guaranteed Admission Program and earn the same scholarship if they meet the criteria.

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