How to Pay for Ohio State University: Financial Aid and Student Loan Options

 June 10, 2020
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How to Pay for Ohio State University

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The typical Ohio State student faces an out-of-pocket cost of $17,704 per year, according to the Department of Education. While that amount might seem high, current and prospective students have many options for how to pay for Ohio State University.

Gift aid such as OSU’s Scarlet and Gray grant can help lower total costs and won’t need to be repaid. Students can also take part in work-study programs or resort to student loans.

This guide to OSU student aid and assistance should help you find the funds you need to cover your college costs and make informed decisions about your education and financial future. Specifically, here are the ways you can pay for Ohio State University:

Grants for Ohio State University students
Scholarships for Ohio State University students
Federal work-study at Ohio State
Student loans


If you’re planning to attend Ohio State University, or any other college for that matter, you’ll want to make sure you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Doing so is the only way to qualify for key federal student aid, such as grants, work-study or loans.

Federal Student Aid uses the information provided on this form to decide what aid you need and whether you’re eligible, detailing this in a Student Aid Report (SAR). The college then uses the SAR to determine your student aid, which it outlines in your student aid award letter.

The FAFSA is often your key to unlocking other forms of student aid and funding from your state, Ohio State University and private entities. Many scholarships and grants will rely on your FAFSA and the information provided therein to evaluate your eligibility for aid. To continue to qualify for as much aid as possible, you’ll need to submit a new FAFSA each year you plan to attend college.

But you don’t have to wait until you’ve filed the FAFSA to see how much aid you could qualify for at Ohio State University. The college provides a net price calculator that projects the aid you could get based on the information you enter, as well as how much you may have to pay out of pocket.

Costs of attending Ohio State University for the 2020-2021 school yearAnnual in-state tuition and fees​​​$11,518Annual room and board (on-campus)​$13,066Total cost$24,584Net cost (after aid)$17,704Average debt after graduation$12,000 to $29,000All info current as of May 27, 2020
Sources: Ohio State University, College Scorecard

Ohio State University FAFSA code and priority deadline

When submitting your FAFSA, take your time and make sure all your information is entered correctly. Double-check that you’ve included Ohio State University among the schools to which you’d like your FAFSA information forwarded. For easy reference, Ohio State University’s FAFSA code is 003090.

It’s also important to submit the FAFSA early. FAFSA submissions open on Oct. 1 for the following academic year, but Ohio State University students should aim to get the FAFSA in by Feb. 1. This is Ohio State University’s priority deadline for filing the FAFSA. If you miss this deadline, you can still file your FAFSA — you just might miss out on institutional or state student aid for which you’d otherwise qualify.

Another important date that incoming students should keep in mind is Nov. 1 — this is the early action date. High school students who apply for early decision and financial aid will know if they’re accepted to Ohio State by the end of January of their senior year.

Applying by this early action deadline is also a requirement for consideration for several valuable Ohio State University scholarships for incoming freshmen. Ohio State admissions open Aug. 1 for the following school year.

Summary of key dates
Aug. 1: OSU admissions open for the following school year Oct. 1: FAFSA opens for the following school year
Nov. 1: OSU’s early-decision deadline for enrolling Feb. 1: OSU’s priority deadline for filing the FAFSA

Grants for Ohio State University students

As gift aid that doesn’t need to be repaid, grants differ from loans and should be prioritized.

Most grants will require you to complete the FAFSA, a separate application or both to qualify. Here are some of the federal, state and institutional grants available to Buckeyes.

Federal student grants

Your FAFSA will act as an application to federal grants, though you may need to take some extra steps to become eligible for some grants.

Here’s an overview of grants offered or funded by the federal government:

  • Federal Pell Grants are awarded to students based on their demonstrated financial need, with the maximum award set at $6,345 for the 2020-21 school year.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are administered by the Ohio State University financial aid office and given to students with the highest financial need. Award amounts can range from $100 to $4,000 a year, depending on need and available funds.
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants provide up to $4,000 a year in funding to students working toward a degree and career in teaching. You’ll need to meet certain academic requirements, complete grant counseling and agree to teach at a school in a high-need or low-income area for four academic years after enrollment ends.
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are awarded to eligible students with a parent or guardian who died while serving in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Ohio College Opportunity Grant

Beyond federal grants, Ohio State University students might also be able to take advantage of a state grant for college students.

The Ohio College Opportunity Grant is the main program of its kind in the state. Funded and administered by the Ohio Department of Higher Education, it offers up to $2,000 annually to Ohio State University students who are state residents and meet all grant qualifications.

Students who submit the FAFSA by Oct. 1 will be automatically evaluated for an Ohio College Opportunity Grant. This grant is designed for students with a high level of financial need.

Grants from Ohio State University

Students can look into grants set up and funded by Ohio State University itself. Below are some of the grants offered.

Students can apply for all these grants by submitting a FAFSA by the priority deadline, Feb. 1.

  • The President’s Affordability Grant is need-based gift aid available to full-time undergrad students with resident status.
  • The Scarlet and Gray Grant is offered on Ohio State University’s Columbus campus. Students can be considered if they have a demonstrated financial need and are in good academic standing. Because the Scarlet and Gray grant is awarded automatically, many students have reported learning about it by surprise.
  • The Freshman Foundation Program (FFP) extends need-based grants to students at the Columbus campus. Eligibility is based on a student’s financial need, academic achievement and personal history and background. A student can only receive either the FFP grant or the Scarlet and Gray Grant — not both.
  • The Buckeye Affordability Grant is awarded to Ohio residents who attend the main Ohio State University campus full-time and have a demonstrated need for student aid.

The grants offered to Ohio State University students can differ by campus, so it’s worthwhile checking with your specific campus’ financial aid office for details on grants available there.

Scholarships for Ohio State University students

Like a grant, a scholarship is a form of gift aid — money that you can use for college without worrying about having to repay it. Unlike grants, which are often based on a student’s need for financial aid, there are a wide range of college scholarship out there:

  • Merit-based scholarships are granted to students with high abilities in academics, athletics or other areas.
  • Need-based scholarships consider a student’s ability to pay for college alongside other criteria.
  • Special-eligibility scholarships may be awarded based on unique requirements, such as area of study, residency or other school involvement.

Like other forms of Ohio student aid, several agencies and organizations offer scholarships that students can use to help cover college costs.

Here are a few resources you can use to find and apply for scholarships:

  • Use scholarship search sites to find national or state-level scholarships for which you might qualify.
  • Complete the Ohio State University Special Scholarships Application to get consideration for scholarships with a wide range of eligibility criteria. You’ll need a student login to view and complete the application.
  • Review departmental scholarships to find potential programs that you could qualify for based on your major.

Ohio State University’s main campus is in Columbus, but it has several campuses that offer scholarships. Seek student aid opportunities through your financial aid office to find scholarships or programs specific to your campus:

Each scholarship will have its own criteria to qualify and apply, and these can vary widely. Both prospective and current students should carefully review and follow all scholarship instructions to maximize their chances of being considered for these awards.

Ohio State University merit-based scholarships

Ohio State University lists several merit-based scholarships available to students. These include:

  • The Eminence Fellows Program and Scholarship is a full-ride scholarship reserved for Honors Program students with “outstanding potential. The application takes into account academic performance, proven commitment to service and social responsibility and application essays.
  • The Morrill Scholarship Program from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion offers this diversity-centered scholarship in three tiered awards, ranging from the value of in-state tuition up to the total cost of attendance. This scholarship is extended to high school seniors with exceptional academic histories who have a history of past diversity and leadership involvement.
  • The Land Grant Opportunity Scholarship is extended to 176 Ohio residents (two from each country) each year and covers their full cost of attendance. Students who file a FAFSA by the priority deadline will get automatic consideration for this scholarship.
  • The National Buckeye Scholarship offer up to $13,500 a school year, for a total potential value of $54,000 over four years. It’s only extended to high school seniors who are non-Ohio residents. The students are automatically considered if they apply by the early action deadline and meet academic performance requirements.
  • Ohio State’s Maximus, Provost and Trustees Scholarships offer tiered awards of $1,000 to $3,000 per academic year to high school seniors with exceptional academic records. Applicants are automatically considered if they meet the early action deadline and meet consideration criteria (top 20% of graduating class and SAT score of 1360 or above).

Finally, be sure to review our guide on private, state and other scholarships for Ohio colleges.

Federal work-study at Ohio State

Another form of student aid that can help Ohio State University students cover their education costs is the federal work-study program. It allows students to apply for and work at qualified work-study jobs to earn awards in the form of wages.

Federal work-study is a form of need-based aid, and your eligibility is determined, in part, by your FAFSA. If you qualify, they can visit the university work-study job board to find and apply for positions. (If you didn’t qualify for federal work-study, consult the job board for resources to find other on-campus employment.)

If you get a federal work-study job, you’ll earn at least Ohio’s minimum wage up to $14.17 an hour. You’ll face a limit on the total hours you can work (and thus what you can earn) in a given semester. Ohio State University limits the hours for all student-employees to 28 hours a week, of which 20 may be through the federal work-study program.

Student loans

Another option to consider when deciding how to pay for Ohio State University is to learn the basics of student loans. Borrowing them, however, should be a last resort, because these funds will need to be repaid with interest.

Here’s a rundown of your Ohio student loan options.

Federal student loans

The Department of Education lends federal student loans. They don’t require having an excellent credit history, and they’re also a great option because of their low fixed rates.

Students who meet financial aid eligibility requirements can claim student loans to help cover their costs. Here’s an overview of federal student loans available to current students.

Federal student loan Who can use it? Interest rate (2019-2020) Loan fee* Annual loan limit
Direct Subsidized Loan Undergraduate students with a demonstrated financial need 4.53% 1.059% Up to $5,500 a school year
Direct Unsubsidized Loan Undergraduate students 4.53% 1.059% Up to $7,500 a school year for dependent students
Up to $12,500 a school year for independent students
Direct Unsubsidized Loan (for graduate students) Students working toward a graduate or professional degree 6.08% 1.059% Up to $20,500 a school year
Direct PLUS Loan Graduate students or parents of undergraduate students 7.08% 4.236% Cost of attendance, after all other student aid is applied

Note that federal student loan interest rates were set for historic lows come 2020-2021.

Federal student loans have several features that give you flexibility once your loans are in repayment. This includes the option to switch to different repayment plans, including income-driven options, to keep monthly costs affordable. You’ll also get access to federal or state student loan forgiveness options, and are guaranteed access to protections that pause payments such as deferment or forbearance.

Ohio State University student loans

Ohio State University has its own limited program to extend some student loans.

Specifically, it offers both a Long-Term University Loan and Short-Term University Assistance. Each is designed to provide emergency student loans for students facing a temporary financial setback or other extenuating circumstance. Students can talk to their campus financial aid office to get more details on these loan programs and learn how to qualify.

Also, nursing students might be interested in the state-sourced Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program. This program provides loans of up to $1,620 for the 2019-2020 year for students in a qualifying Ohio nursing program.

Private student loans

Another source of funding for Ohio State University could be private student loans. These are loans offered to students by banks, credit unions and online lenders to help cover educational expenses.

A private student loan can be a good option for some students. For example, they can provide funding to students who have hit federal loan limits but still need to borrow, or if you lose federal student aid eligibility.

Private student loans differ from federal student loans in some key ways. You’ll need good credit to get a private student loan, for example. Yet because college students tend not to have good credit (if they have any credit), most wind up needing a cosigner to qualify for these loans.

Additionally, while some lenders such as Ascent and Discover allow you to defer payments in school, others might not provide that option. Many private loans also carry rates and fees that can be far more than what you’d pay on a federal student loan.

The variance in terms, rates and features offered on private student loans makes it all the more important to shop around and compare lenders. Our roundup of private student loan providers is a great place to start your search.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

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