Christmas will come early this year for about 100 University of Akron seniors.
UA benefactors Vanita and Jim Oelschlager have given $60,000 to wipe away the students’ past-due balances. The generosity will enable the students to enroll in UA this fall and edge closer toward earning their degrees.
Normally students who owe money can’t enroll until they pay off the past-due amounts.
“We came up with that figure, and our development officer went to the Oelschlagers,” financial aid director Michelle Ellis said Wednesday. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that students who are near graduation aren’t blocked in any way.”
The Bath Township couple has donated more than $16.5 million to the university over the past two decades. That included a $1 million gift in 2010-2011.
Jim Oelschlager, founder of Oak Associates, a growth-equity investment firm, could not immediately be reached for comment.
This is at least the second time that the university has used donations to clear past-due accounts.
Last spring, the Kresge Foundation gave $12,000 that UA applied to the accounts of 30 seniors who each owed $1,000 or less, Ellis said.
Jim Tressel, the former Ohio State football coach who now is vice president for strategic engagement at UA, also came up with a program called the Now Initiative a few months ago that seeks to eke excess money out of departmental accounts. Ellis said she did not know how much that raised, but said it will cover the past-due balances of about 20 students this fall.
Ellis said 144 seniors owe money to UA. About 120 will have their debts discharged by the Oelschlager gift and Tressel initative.
Recipients must be seniors in good academic standing. Ellis said she was deciding now who will get the awards.
Those who will be helped will be notified by email or phone next week.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.