Scarlet and Gray Advantage - Earn Your Ohio State Degree, Debt Free

The Scarlet & Gray Advantage program empowers eligible Ohio State students to earn their bachelor’s degree – debt free – freeing them to pursue a vibrant future without the burden of student loans. The program is in its second year.

What Scarlet & Gray Advantage offers students

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Cover the estimated cost of attendance through scholarships and grants, work-study, and family contributions

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Work opportunities

Gain experience and support their education through jobs and paid internships

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Learning experiences

Prepare for careers and develop financial skills through coaching and other programs

Help students access a vibrant future

By supporting the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program, you are providing pathways for students to reach their goals and achieve their educational and life dreams. You can champion these Buckeyes to go further, discover more and change the world.
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Pilot launches, offering students pathways to debt-free degrees

Learn more about the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program, including details about the pilot that will help the university create a debt-free bachelor’s degree.


Ohio State provides students participating in the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program with enhanced access to scholarships, work opportunities and learning experiences focused on financial coaching and career development.

  • Scholarships: The university ensures that participating students can cover the total estimated cost of attendance through a combination of scholarships, grants, work-study and their family contribution. The estimated cost of attendance includes tuition, mandatory fees, housing, dining and indirect costs like books and personal expenses.
  • Work opportunities: Ohio State helps participating students identify paid work opportunities, both during the academic year and during summers, to help them financially support their education and develop work experience. Work opportunities may include Federal Work-Study, on-campus jobs, paid internships, research positions and jobs with third-party employers.
  • Learning experiences: The Scarlet & Gray Advantage program provides coaching, workshops and other experiences where students can learn how to navigate college, develop their personal finance skills and begin the process of career exploration.  


No. The Scarlet & Gray Advantage program relies on the active participation of students interested in a debt-free bachelor’s degree. The program is designed to help students avoid loans, not to forgive debt. The university will continue to meet a portion of students’ needs through scholarships and grants. Depending on their circumstances, students may have an expected family contribution and/or be offered work-study to support their education.

Students participating in the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program have been identified through a process in which new first-year students were randomly selected to receive invitations. The 2022-2023 pilot included 119 first-year students. Approximately 150 will be joining the second cohort during the 2023-2024 academic year.

For other students, the university continues to provide support through existing scholarships and grants, work opportunities, and learning experiences focused on financial coaching and career development.

Students who participate in the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program are able to graduate debt-free by taking advantage of federal, state and university scholarships and grants, paid internship and work opportunities, and educational programs. Students will need to complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) annually and commit to actions such as maintaining full-time enrollment, pursuing paid internship and job opportunities, and participating in learning experiences focused on financial coaching and career development. Their actions determine whether they graduate debt-free.

Students who are not part of the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program can avoid or minimize student loans by taking advantage of available scholarships and grants, work opportunities and learning experiences focused on financial coaching and career development. 

Ohio State is focused on affordability for all students. We offer a variety of tools and resources that students can use to minimize their use of college loans. Here are four immediate steps to maximize your opportunities:

1. Take advantage of scholarships and grants

  •  Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) each year — by the Feb. 1 priority date if possible — so that the university can determine your eligibility for scholarships, grants, Federal-Work Study and other financial aid.
  • Use ScholarshipUniverse each year to apply for a variety of additional scholarship and grant opportunities available from Ohio State and other sources. 

2.    Attend full-time. Graduate on time.

  • Work with your academic advisor to plan a full course schedule (typically at least 30 credits per academic year for undergraduates) so you can graduate on time. 

3.    Seek out jobs and internships

  • Complete a profile on Handshake to apply for jobs, paid internships and research opportunities to gain valuable work experience while earning money to support your education. 

4.    Develop your financial skills

  • Schedule an appointment with a peer financial coach through Scarlet and Gray Financial 
  • Use the interactive iGrad website to learn money management skills, such as budgeting and financial goal setting.  

Contact information

The university offers a variety of scholarships and grants, work opportunities and programs about financial literacy and other topics. These are some of the affordability programs expanded in recent years:

  • Ohio State Tuition Guarantee: The university freezes tuition, mandatory fees, housing and dining rates for each incoming class of in-state students. This guarantee lasts four years for each class.
  • Summer Tuition Discount: Ohio State offers a 25% discount on summer tuition rates compared with autumn/spring rates for Columbus campus students.
  • The Buckeye Opportunity Program: In-state students who qualify for Pell Grants receive a scholarship and grants package that covers at least the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees.
  • The President’s Affordability Grant: ​Ohio State provides grants of up to $2,250 per year to approximately 15,000 low- and middle-income Ohio students annually.
  • Affordable Learning Exchange: The university’s textbook affordability program helps instructors develop and use free or low-cost course materials. The Affordable Learning Exchange has saved students more than $20 million since 2016.

Prospective students can learn more about financial aid opportunities through Undergraduate Admissions. Current students can find resources, including the ScholarshipUniverse tool for locating opportunities for possible matches, through Student Financial Aid.

In 2021-22, 56% of Ohio State bachelor’s degree recipients graduated without debt — up from 48% in 2017-18. During that same period, the average amount of student debt for undergraduate students has declined each year for a 5% reduction overall.

Ohio State is raising $800 million for undergraduate scholarships over the next decade, including $500 million in endowments. The university has created a $50 million program to match private donations that create new endowments or support existing ones for undergraduate scholarships.

Learn more about opportunities to give through the Ohio State University Foundation.