Donations help fund CFAES student scholarships

Photo by: Kenneth D. Chamberlain

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Looking for a worthy cause for donation?

The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Undergraduate Scholarship Fund (#317468) is one good option.

The fund helps provide scholarship monies for undergraduate students enrolled in CFAES to attend school and earn a college degree. The fund is also a part of the new larger effort by Ohio State to raise $800 million for student scholarships for the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program, which is designed to offer a debt-free bachelor’s degree within a decade.

In addition to student scholarships, the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program will expand job and internship programs that allow students to gain experience while earning a paycheck; will provide grant assistance; and will extend coaching on financial education, leadership, and work skills.

“In CFAES, we have a student-first philosophy. We award more than $2.8 million-plus in CFAES scholarships annually—more than any other college in the university,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and CFAES dean. “Coupled with the financial education, leadership, and work skills in the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program, our students will have a real competitive advantage as they enter the workforce with real-world experience and very little debt.”

Students who join Scarlet & Gray Advantage will be active participants in achieving a debt-free degree through a joint commitment with the university. Ohio State will provide financial aid for low- and middle-income students, coupled with work opportunities and programs to help students develop financial literacy for their college years and beyond. Students will be expected to participate in financial literacy programs, take advantage of work opportunities, and join a cohort of like-minded students focused on a debt-free education.

Ohio State is a public, land-grant institution with more than 53,000 undergraduate students, so Scarlet & Gray Advantage is set to be among the largest debt-free programs in higher education. When the program is finalized, newly entering first-year students at all Ohio State campuses will have the opportunity to join Scarlet & Gray Advantage as they begin their college careers.

Brianna Gwirtz, ’18, is an example of an Ohio State graduate who benefited from CFAES scholarships. One of the biggest benefits, she said, was to be able to graduate with minimal debt. Gwirtz’s scholarships covered her tuition at Ohio State ATI on the CFAES Wooster campus in addition to her studies after transferring to the Columbus campus.

“Having the peace of mind knowing that my tuition was covered allowed me to start my life off out of college on a good foot financially,” she said. “Because of that, I’ve been able to set myself up for some other big life-after-college experiences like buying my first home and having a newer, reliable vehicle.”

“Additionally, having scholarships allowed me to really dig deeper into my college experience at CFAES, including being able to take advantage of clubs and jobs within the college, which meant no evening or weekend work hours. That allowed me to focus on my studies, and I was able to do a study abroad with a scholarship that enabled me to go to England and Scotland.”

Students like Gwirtz are just one example of the many who can benefit from the new Scarlet & Gray Advantage program once it is finalized. Ohio State will bring Scarlet & Gray Advantage to scale over the next decade while taking immediate steps that include the following:

  • Scholarships—To expand financial support for students, Ohio State will raise $800 million, including $500 million in endowments, over the next decade to expand undergraduate scholarships. To help kick off this campaign and enhance the impact of early gifts, the university and lead donors are creating a $50 million pool to match the first $50 million in private donations. Any donor who contributes at least $100,000 to endowed funds while the match is available will see the impact of their gift double in size.
  • Work opportunities—Working with employers throughout the state and country, Ohio State will expand its network of paid job and internship opportunities so that students have more opportunities to earn money, develop job skills, and prepare themselves for post-college careers. The university will build on a robust network of relationships, both on campus and with outside employers, to offer work opportunities in a variety of fields.
  • Education and coaching—Scarlet & Gray Advantage students will participate in financial literacy programs, leadership and career counseling, and other programs to enhance their path to success.
  • A pilot program—In autumn 2022, the university will select 125 newly entering first-year students to be part of a Scarlet & Gray Advantage pilot program that will hone strategies to optimize university services and will identify opportunities to further streamline student support. Details about how the cohort will be selected will be determined as the incoming class takes shape.

Ohio State will support Scarlet & Gray Advantage through fundraising, optimizing existing resources, collaborating with state and federal leaders to support student success, and engaging with the business community and other employers.

“This initiative will lessen the burden of tuition costs so our students can focus on their experiences while at CFAES, such as study-abroad programs, internships, and hands-on opportunities,” Kress said.

More information about the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program, including opportunities to contribute, is available at Donations to the CFAES Undergraduate Scholarship Fund (#317468) can be made at

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

 Emily Kruse