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President Announces Scholarship Help to Offset Drastic Cut in State Grant Program (07/24/2009)

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President Lefton at Press Conference

In the face of a struggling Ohio and U.S. economy, financial pressure on students has increased with the recent cut in the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG). The state’s newly enacted biennial budget cuts the grant program by $224 million statewide, affecting 7,000 students at Kent State University alone.

To help students cope with the loss of OCOG funding, Kent State President Lester A. Lefton has announced the creation of a new program called the "President's Assistance Award” to help students in the greatest financial need.  “In a time of economic instability regionally and nationally, Kent State wants to reassure current and future students and their families of the university's continued commitment to helping achieve the goal of a college education,” Lefton says.

Under the new program, Kent State will allocate $2,065,000 toward a new scholarship fund.  The President’s Assistance Award is budgeted to assist 1,900 students at the Kent Campus with awards ranging between $500 and $1,000 and not covering the entire shortfall.  The new university funding is targeted to full-time, Kent Campus students with the greatest need, with an emphasis on new freshmen and continuing students who have relied significantly on OCOG in the past and were expecting it to continue.

The average Kent Campus student receiving OCOG will experience an average reduction of 60 percent in their grant for this summer, and for the fall 2009 and spring 2010 semesters.  Students at the university’s seven Regional Campuses will lose the entire grant. 

Emily Gniazdowski is a sophomore accounting major, who will see her OCOG drop from $2,490 to $1,008. She says she is gratified that the university is doing everything it can to help students in her situation. “It really hurt a lot to learn that I’d have to take this big cut in my aid,” Gniazdowski says. “Knowing that the university and the faculty and staff want to help Lefton and Students at Press Conferencethe students affected by the cuts really means a lot to me.”

The President’s Assistance Award is in addition to a recently established scholarship fund created by Lefton and the 10 members of his executive cabinet through the donation of their raises for this year.  Following their lead, many Kent State employees have been inquiring how they can give back a portion of their upcoming raises to assist.  The university will launch an appeal to faculty and staff within the next week to help employees who are interested in this philanthropic endeavor.

Lefton notes that access to additional financial aid is especially important for the many Ohio students whose families and communities have been hard hit by the economic recession and recent bankruptcies in the auto industry. Many Kent State students are residents of counties that have experienced plant closings.

Many students bear the burden of their college costs alone. Mary Rudolph is an independent student who recently lost her mother, so she pays for college out of her own pocket. She says that it is heartwarming to learn that the university and its employees care about student success. “I already have a job, and every bit of financial aid keeps me in school,” Rudolph says. “These cuts, without help from Kent State, would have been devastating to me since I am struggling.”

“Mary and Emily are two of our best and brightest,” Lefton concludes. “They are the reason why Kent State is going to step up and make it possible to keep students like them in school.”


Media Contacts:
Tom Neumann at 330-672-8533 or
Kimberley Sirk at 330-672-8514 or


This page was last modified on September 8, 2009