Ohio Republican Bill Aims to Stop Colleges from Reducing Financial Aid Awards

A Republican Ohio House Representative introduced legislation to stop a college or university from reducing financial aid if a person receives a private scholarship.

House Bill (HB) 98, sponsored by State Representative Monica Robb Blasdel (R-Columbiana County), aims to stop scholarship displacement and ensure Ohio college students effectively receive the assistance they have earned through private scholarships.

Scholarship displacement is when winning private scholarships reduces other forms of financial aid, effectively negating any financial gain for the student.

Under the legislation, no college or university would be permitted to participate in scholarship displacement.

“No state institution of higher education shall reduce a student’s institutional financial aid because the student receives one or more private scholarships,” the bill says.

The bill also offers relevant flexibility with carve-outs for situations where awards are greater than a student’s cost of attendance or to adhere to financial aid restrictions on intercollegiate athletes.

Robb Blasdel (pictured above) said that rising college tuition has created an increasing barrier for many Ohioans to pursue higher education. Due to this, private scholarships play a direct role in a student’s financial stability by reducing the loans a student has to take out.

According to Robb Blasdel, students are losing hard-earned scholarship money they rely on to pay for their education through scholarship displacement.

“We are seeing students lose hard-earned scholarship money through simple reductions in the financial aid packages they rely on to fund their education. It is time to stop this practice in Ohio and keep the gains of merit scholarships in the pockets of our students,” Robb Blasdel said.

Robb Blasdel noted that a president of a local high school alumni association brought this matter to her attention. She said that this organization has increasingly seen scholarship awards displaced by universities resulting in students and donors losing out on net benefits.

“Year-round, the alumni association solicits donations from community partners, businesses, and alumni to provide members of their community more comfortable opportunities to pursue higher education. They spend countless hours reviewing applications and determining worthy students for merit rewards related to academic excellence, achievements in sports and art, volunteer service, and exceptional leadership. Unfortunately, many of these dollars are simply displaced as financial aid is proportionally decreased. What began as a direct award to hardworking students can end without any net benefit to these students or the donors,” Robb Blasdel said.

According to Robb Blasdel, she and Ohio’s public universities have attempted to identify where and why scholarship displacement is happening; however, they “haven’t been able to identify significant mechanisms that would justify the scholarship displacement that has been occurring.”

The Columbiana County lawmaker said HB 98 closely resembles legislation Pennsylvania enacted last year.

Pennsylvania HB 1642 is a public school system bill that includes a ban on scholarship displacement at public colleges and universities. Pennsylvania is the fourth state in the country to eliminate the practice of public colleges and universities reducing a student’s financial aid package when the student receives a private scholarship.

The legislation is currently under review in the Ohio House Higher Education Committee and has the support of the Salem High School Alumni Association.

The Ohio Star reached out to Robb Blasdel for additional comment but did not receive a reply before press time.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star, The Star News Network, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]




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