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Published: Friday, 1/28/2005

Needy students get bulk of aid, Ohio study says

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Students who attend two-year-schools, like Owens Community College, do well their junior year at four-year colleges. Students who attend two-year-schools, like Owens Community College, do well their junior year at four-year colleges.
WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge

The bulk of financial aid available in Ohio is being awarded to college students with the highest need, according to a state report released yesterday.

Eighty-four percent of the total aid, which amounted to $541 million in 2003, was granted to needy students. That figure includes all types of grants awarded - including those for merit and athletics - where the recipient also happened to be a lower-income student.

The finding was part of the Ohio Board of Regents' fifth annual performance report on higher education, which includes overall summaries of the status of education in the state, coupled with charts and statistics on individual institutions.

Several pages of financial aid statistics were provided for the first time in the report, namely a statewide breakdown on specific distribution of Ohio financial aid and grants to both public and private institutions.

Financial aid breakdowns prove to be of interest to educators and the public, especially as tuition increases, said William Knight, director of institutional research at Bowling Green State University.

"That's certainly a perennial discussion topic," he said.

New information in the report also related to the performance of high school students in college courses and comparisons of success rates between transfer and nontransfer college students.

Among the other findings:

●Enrollment in programs allowing students to take college courses while in high school has grown, but Ohio overall still lags behind the nation in its participation in advanced placement courses for students.

●Students who have exposure to college courses in high school do better than their peers in college and on standardized tests like the ACT.

●Transfer students from community and technical colleges have lower graduation and retention rates than nontransfer students.

●Students who transfer to four-year colleges have similar grade-point averages in the first semester of their junior year as those native to the four-year schools.

The grade-point average finding was welcome information for Terry Thomas, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges.

"We always liked to brag in the past that we had success with those who transfer," Mr. Thomas said. "What the regents' report shows is that when students transfer, they perform at equivalent GPAs as those of the native school."

John Nutter, director of institutional research at the University of Toledo, said one aspect of the report that remains an ongoing, important focus is the issue of students who transfer.

He said the concept of "swirling," the notion that many students start college with a plan of attending more than one institution, received much discussion in preparing the report.

He said there is evidence in the report of such transfers, and he noted that the new information allows researchers to better track students' retention and graduation rates across multiple institutions.

Mr. Nutter also said the findings about remediation of high school students will hit home for educators.

"It's confirmed that Ohio students require a lot of remediation," Mr. Nutter said. "Lots of things would look a lot different if community colleges and universities didn't spend as much time and money on remediation."

Contact Kim Bates at:

kimbates@theblade.com

or 419-724-6074.



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