Ohio State is committing $400 million over five years to lower students' costs and improve the value of their education, the university's new president announced Tuesday.
Students should be focused on learning, not worried about paying for college, Michael Drake said during his formal installation ceremony.
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"Despite the long-term value of a degree, we must be sensitive to the debt burden associated with a college education, especially for low- and middle-income families," Drake said during his speech.
The plan would include $15 million in the first year for scholarships to decrease reliance on student loans. The school says scholarship support for low- and middle-income students would grow by $100 million over five years.
Ohio State says the $400 million will come from "administrative efficiencies" and "innovative financing" that is not dependent on tuition or taxes.
The money also will provide support for faculty, staff and academic programs, along with supporting the university's "best new ideas and innovations," Drake said.
The savings have involved everything from reducing the use of color printing to negotiating better terms from vendors, the president said.
Drake also announced a $15 million investment to hire new professors to find solutions to food insecurity, or people not knowing where their next meal may come from. Ohio State is committing almost $100 million over the next decade toward solving the problem, he said.
Drake, 64, an ophthalmologist by training, started at Ohio State last June after being recruited from the University of California-Irvine.
His installation was a star-studded affair by university standards, with several local, state and federal leaders in attendance, including Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty of Columbus, state auditor Dave Yost and John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.
The biggest applause — a standing ovation — was saved for the announcement that John and Annie Glenn were in the audience. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth in 1962 and later was a U.S. senator.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.