ATHENS — More than $580,000 in scholarship funding has been awarded to Ohio University undergraduates over the past three fiscal years, thanks to donors who have contributed to a historic investment in student accessibility and affordability that is expanding in its final months to include regional campuses and specific programs.

Known as The OHIO Match, the six-year Undergraduate Scholarship Investment Program began July 1, 2013, and runs through June 30, 2019.

In announcing the launch of the program, the University pledged up to $25 million to strengthen its endowed scholarship program by providing $0.50 for every dollar committed to eligible scholarship endowments through the end of the program.

During the program’s first five years, donors provided $8.52 million in eligible gifts, resulting in $4.26 million in matching University funds, the creation of 155 endowed scholarship accounts and the support of six previously established accounts.

"The OHIO Match has provided life-changing assistance to students who otherwise may not have been able to attend Ohio University while establishing a legacy of student support that is sustainable over the long term," said Nico Karagosian, vice president for University Advancement and president and CEO of The Ohio University Foundation.

"As we prepared for the program’s final year, we recommended changes designed to meet both the needs of students and the desires of our generous donors."

Ohio University’s Board of Trustees recently approved revisions to The OHIO Match program, effective July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.

Those changes include:

· Expanding the program to OHIO’s Chillicothe, Eastern, Lancaster, Southern and Zanesville campuses.

· Allowing donors to designate that first preferences be given to students studying in a specific academic department, program or major.

Other donor preferences, such as geographic restrictions, will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Previously, donors could only specify that their match-eligible gift be designated to a particular college or University-wide. Under the new guidelines, donor preferences must be broad enough to ensure an ample number of eligible scholarship recipients.

· Requiring a donor commitment of at least $25,000 (Athens Campus) or $15,000 (regional campuses) in order to create new individual named endowments. Donors of any amount can still participate in The OHIO Match by making a gift to the University-wide match-eligible scholarship endowment or to a specific college’s match-eligible scholarship endowment.

Since the new guidelines took effect, at least 11 new gifts have been made through The OHIO Match program, with donors committing more than $830,000 to assist students pursuing an Ohio University education.

Among those donors were the late Dr. Wayne A. Pletcher, BS ’66, and Dr. Carol Pletcher whose gift resulted in the creation of the Pletcher Science Scholarship. This endowed scholarship will assist undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences who demonstrate financial need and academic merit and who are majoring in at least one natural science discipline. Under The OHIO Match’s previous guidelines, the Pletchers’ gift would not have qualified for the program’s matching funds.

"Under the revised OHIO Match guidelines, we strengthen our support for the heart of Ohio University’s mission by helping to remove financial barriers to a college education and providing a means for the Bobcats of today and tomorrow to choose OHIO’s first and finest," Karagosian said. "We thank those donors who have already supported this investment in student accessibility and affordability and those whose gifts will be made in the coming months. Your generosity truly is philanthropy in service to education."