State Budget Includes Increase to Ohio’s College Opportunity Grant and New Merit Scholarship

On July 3, Governor Mike DeWine signed Ohio’s biennium budget, which will govern state spending through June 30, 2025. The budget includes two important provisions that will have meaningful impact on furthering postsecondary educational attainment for Ohioans: Increasing Ohio’s College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) and establishing the Governor’s Merit Scholarship.

The two-year allocation for OCOG, the state’s primary need-based aid program, increased by more than 82% from $219 million to $400 million! This significant increase has enormous ramifications for students and families with whom College Now works as well as for students and families across the state. Under the new budget, the income threshold for receiving a scholarship award through OCOG has increased so that more Ohio families will qualify for eligibility. Furthermore, the annual amount of the OCOG scholarship award has been increased from its current level of $2,700 to $3,200 for the 2023-2024 school year at a state university’s main campus and from $4,200 to $4,700 at a private, non-profit higher educational institution. For the 2024-2025 school year, the scholarship award will increase to $4,000 at a state university’s main campus and $5,000 at a private, non-profit higher educational institution.

Separately, the Governor’s Merit Scholarship has been created for high school seniors who graduate in the top 5% of their public or charter school class and attend an Ohio public or private institution of higher education. The $5,000 scholarship is renewable for up to four years, provided the student meets satisfactory academic progress. Of equal importance, this scholarship, which may be used toward the cost of attendance, is supplemental and may not replace a scholarship or financial aid award offered by the higher educational institution the student attends.

Advocates for higher education across the state, including College Now and the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland worked closely to build coalitions and articulated the critical need for these budget items.

As part of College Now’s efforts, our chief program officer, Dr. Michele Scott Taylor, testified several times before different House and Senate committees during the budget process about the impact of financial aid on postsecondary educational attainment on individuals, communities and employers throughout the state. College Now is grateful to its partners in this process and to members of the Ohio House and Senate, especially Senators Jerry Cirino and Matt Dolan and Rep. Bride Sweeney for their support.