Free scholarship programs at the University of Toledo and Owens Community College helped boost enrollment increases at the schools, officials said.
UT has about 400 students attending at no charge through the UT Guarantee, also called the blue and gold scholarship program, and Owens has nearly 250 students in its similar Success Program.
UT has 23,064 students on campus this fall, a 3.3 percent increase from the year before.
And Owens has 23,606 students on both its Perrysburg Township and Findlay campuses, which is 10.8 percent more than 2008.
Bowling Green State University's internal research department was still crunching the numbers yesterday and its fall enrollment figures were not available, university spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said.
The 400 students in UT's free scholarship program helped contribute to the largest freshman class in the university's history with almost 4,000 students, said Kevin Kucera, UT associate vice president for enrollment services.
The program, which covers the cost of tuition for students with financial need and at least a 3.0 GPA, doubled the number of students from Toledo's public high schools to 150.
It also targeted the state's urban areas with the most impact in the Cleveland and Columbus areas. Students from Cleveland went from 20 to about 100, and Columbus went from just four last year to more than 55 this year, Mr. Kucera said.
There were another 100 students who applied to UT because of the scholarship program but didn't show the financial need to qualify who still chose to come to UT, Mr. Kucera said.
Bill Ivoska, Owens' vice president of student services, said the college was "thrilled" to have about 250 graduates from Toledo and Findlay public schools take part in their program.
More than 480 students from those districts applied to Owens, but just 247 were eligible for the program that requires financial need. Owens does not have a GPA requirement.
Owens saw much of its enrollment growth in the convenience options at the college with online enrollment up almost 20 percent from last year, and weekend and evening courses also seeing more traffic, Mr. Ivoska said. "It has been exponential growth in the Web, because students supplement their land-based curriculum with that because it saves you some gas money and transportation costs, and allows you to be more efficient," he said.
And more Toledoans are choosing to take their Owens classes at The Source downtown, which is up 25 percent, Mr. Ivoska said. The studies of green technology, business, and health care continue to be draws for students, he said.
At UT, engineering, education, and health science and human services saw the most growth.
The College of Arts and Sciences still has the largest draw, with 3,317 students enrolled.
Larry Burns, university vice president of external affairs, credits UT's enrollment growth to not only the new scholarship program, but also UT's marketing efforts and its growing reputation.
"People like to go to places that are growing and showing improvement and developing their niche," he said. "This is not a surprise. It's not luck. It's not a coincidence. It's all strategic in nature."
Lourdes College has record-breaking enrollment for the sixth consecutive year, with 2,319 students at its Sylvania campus.
It's a 4 percent increase from last year, when the college had 2,228 students.
Lourdes President Bob Helmer said the enrollment increases are a testament to the college's commitment to academics and dedication to student success.
The college's nursing and accounting programs experienced the greatest jump in enrollment, and the graduate school also increased by 18 percent.
Mercy College of Northwest Ohio exceeds 1,000 students at its Toledo and Youngstown campuses.
The Toledo campus is up 15 percent to 959 students, compared to 833 last year. Its Youngstown campus is at capacity with 99 students.
Terra Community College in Fremont saw an 18.8 percent jump in students attending the college with 3,148 students, compared with 2,650 last year.
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