The Ohio Northern Promise Frequently Asked Questions
The Ohio Northern Promise is a set of initiatives to make an ONU education more affordable, to reduce student loan debt, to sustain academic quality, and to prepare students for career success. More specifically, The Ohio Northern Promise is about affordable excellence. It contains three key elements:
- Offering a four-year graduation guarantee in most undergraduate programs to lower student debt
- Engaging students in high-impact practices to deepen and enrich learning
- Sustaining an impressive record of job placement and graduate and professional school admission rates for graduates
A hallmark of an ONU education is engaged learning, learning that occurs both inside and outside the classroom because of direct involvement in high-impact practices – internships, capstone courses, field experiences, study abroad and experiential learning. Ohio Northern University will expand its already extensive opportunities for high-impact practices that enrich and deepen student learning and student achievement. Finally, Northern will continue its impressive record of job placement and graduate and professional school admissions rates for our graduates, rates that average 93 percent over the last four years.
The three elements of The Ohio Northern Promise will make The Ohio Northern Experience more affordable and provide greater value to the students we prepare for lives of success and service. ↑
ONU is well-positioned to make such a bold move now because it is operating from a position of strength in so many areas. Ohio Northern consistently attracts very well-qualified students, and total enrollment in 2013 is the highest in four years. The University receives top marks in many national rankings including U.S. News and World Report, Washington Monthly, and The Princeton Review. Last year, the University completed a comprehensive campaign that raised $110 million (against a $100 million goal), and endowment earnings have returned to pre-recession rates. Following two years of study and implementation, ONU has improved operating efficiency and made the investment to enhance significantly enrollment and financial modeling. The University continues to create high-demand programs and has begun planning for a new engineering building. The combination of these elements makes now the ideal time to launch The Ohio Northern Promise. ↑
In the last year, Ohio Northern University has given more focused attention to considering what kind of changes are needed to sustain academic quality AND become more affordable to qualified students and the families that support them. The University conducted a pricing study, held campus-wide forums on financial and enrollment trends, and, last spring semester, met with nearly 200 full-time faculty members in more than a dozen small-group conversations. The changes that ONU believes will work best for Northern, and that are best suited for these times, have emerged from these deliberations and were formulated in recent months. The proposal was presented to members the Ohio Northern University Board of Trustees at their annual meeting last weekend. The board devoted much of its meeting time to a thorough discussion of the University’s proposal to change its own financial model and reposition Northern for even greater success in the future.
The Ohio Northern University is predicated on the view that the prolonged effects of the 2007-08 economic downturn, also known as the Great Recession, have created dramatic, even fundamental, economic changes that are having an adverse impact on higher education. The forces of impact include the following:
- A steady decline in middle-class wages and wealth
- An increasing sensitivity to price
- A growing concern about debt, fueled by stories of debilitating student debt
- A continued rise in tuition levels
- A shrinking population of high school graduates in Ohio over the next decade
While the economy has changed, much of higher education has not. The proposal discussed at the Board meeting is definitely a meaningful change for ONU. It represents a way forward that seeks to reverse some of the trends cited above and makes a quality education more available to the best students we can attract.
The proposal also demonstrates that we have listened, thoughtfully considered, and developed a plan that is right for our time and taps into the national and statewide conversation about college costs, completion, student outcomes and return on investment. In the jargon of the day, our proposal says, “We get it!” ↑
The current economic downturn has created unprecedented financial challenges for all sectors of higher education, including the private nonprofit sector, leading many to believe that the old ways of operating and managing are inadequate. We believe that the conventional high tuition and high financial aid model embraced for decades by most private colleges and universities is not working today and is no longer sustainable as the economy resets to a new normal. Despite this financial turbulence, Ohio Northern University remains academically strong and one of the top-ranked private universities in Ohio and in the region. ↑
First-time freshman students who enroll in a major designed to be completed in four years are guaranteed that they will graduate in four years. If it takes longer (through no fault of their own), there will be no additional cost for completing the degree.
- Student signs up for the guarantee prior to matriculation.
- If a student switches majors, the guarantee may hold if the new major can be completed in the guarantee period.
- Student must successfully complete a minimum of 30 credits per year. ↑
Ohio Northern University offers more than 80 baccalaureate programs. Of those programs, more than 70 percent qualify for the Four-Year Guarantee Program. ↑
Students across most undergraduate programs will complete their bachelor’s degrees in four years. This is a campus-wide commitment from the University. Assigned academic advisors will continue to help students plan their coursework each semester, and, if the students commit to stay on track, the University guarantees that they will graduate in four years.
If, for any reason not related to student performance, a student is not able to complete their course work within four years, the University will offer 16 credit hours of tuition required for graduation. This, combined with our tuition-rate reductions, helps ensure that students who take out student loans to finance their higher education will minimize student debt. ↑
This decision is intended to make the value – in terms of experience, outcomes and cost – of an Ohio Northern education more transparent in the marketplace. While some of the benefits to students and families will impact Northern’s finances, we are confident in our ability to manage this financially. Given the economic times, Northern will continue to look for opportunities to further strengthen our financial position for the benefit of both the University and our students. ↑
To make degree attainment more affordable, Ohio Northern University will reduce tuition for all students to rates similar to those charged prior to the recession, and the University will offer a four-year graduation guarantee. Completing a bachelor’s degree in four years will permit students to minimize their student-debt levels. ↑
Although current undergraduate students may see a reduction in scholarships and grants, their net tuition charge will be frozen at 2013-14 levels for 2014-15. Some students will pay less than 2013-14. Current students will not otherwise be charged a 3 percent, or about a $1,000, increase in tuition for 2014-15 as would have occurred in the traditional financial model. Letters are being mailed to the student’s attention at their permanent addresses to outline the new financial aid model. ↑
No decision about tuition setting is risk-free. Ohio Northern University has calculated the short-term risks as best it can and is prepared to fund this change through a combination of sources, including attracting additional new tuition revenue and gifts, controlling costs, and exercising budget discipline. ↑