New Report Uncovers Significant Barriers to College Access for Low-Income Students at Seven Ohio Universities

Press Releases

January 22, 2020

Recommendations Detail Fair Share Plan to Increase Equity for Ohioans

COLUMBUS, OH (Jan. 22, 2020) – A new report released today by Education Reform Now (ERN) found seven Ohio colleges significantly underperform on working-class and low-income student access compared with schools nationally and peer institutions in-state. 

The colleges—Case Western Reserve University, Kenyon College, Miami University, Oberlin College, The Ohio State University, the College of Wooster and the University of Dayton—all receive benefits and revenue from Ohio taxpayers but are not doing their fair share to serve all Ohioans, according to report findings. 

“Ohio colleges have a historic and prominent place in higher education,” said report author and ERN Senior Policy Analyst James Murphy. “Ohio should be proud of that place, but that place is at risk if inequality takes root in the very universities and colleges that for generations have been the most powerful tool we’ve had for promoting social mobility.”

To remedy this, ERN and Murphy recommend Ohio institute a higher education access public service fee for colleges that fail to enroll a first-year class with at least 20% of students receiving a Pell grant. Funds generated from the fee should be driven to the Ohio College Opportunity Grant program that provides tuition and fee assistance for working-class and low-income Ohio students throughout the state.

In a press conference this morning, Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati), the top Democrat on the House Higher Education Committee, discussed the report findings with Murphy and urged Ohio Chancellor Randy Gardner to improve college access for students from working-class families—particularly among the seven institutions called out in the report. 

“I’m asking the Chancellor to look at this and see what we can do,” said Ingram. “College access, affordability, quality, and student body diversity go hand-in-hand,” she said, adding, “this is not only a detriment to education but also culture.”

You can read the full report here