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Published: Sunday, 1/16/2005

The Ohio State 88

Ohio State University has stepped up to reach out to one set of students traditionally under-represented on campus. It has developed a creative new scholarship that will give one low-income, bright student in each of the state's 88 counties the chance to obtain a college education.

These scholarships will provide a full ride to students who otherwise wouldn't consider college because of the costs. Students whose families make $40,000 a year or less can qualify for the scholarship, which is worth up to $17,000 annually. It will pay for such necessities as tuition, books, and room and board.

To be eligible, prospective students must be academically prepared at the high school level. Additionally, they must enroll full time, maintain a 3.2 GPA, and apply to renew the scholarship each year. In other words, only serious students need apply.

The OSU scholarship should produce a flood of applicants. Of course, more applicants are bound to come from large Ohio counties, such as Lucas, that have more high schools than others.

Paulding County, conversely, has just three high schools, and the pool of eligibles will be much smaller. As a result, Paulding High School head guidance counselor Karen Schlatter described the OSU scholarship as "an awesome opportunity."

That it is, though it is possible that some smaller rural counties will have fewer students who meet OSU's income criteria. That may require some tweaking by the university at some point.

What's most heartening about this program is that it proves that U.S. colleges can do their part to diversify campuses which are largely populated by middle- and upper-income students. The best way to perpetuate a society of haves and have-nots is to do nothing about it.

Ohio State has devised a program that will make it possible every year for 88 young Ohioans to go to college who might otherwise never get the chance. It's too bad more of Ohio's public universities don't have the resources to do the same thing.

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