The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has advised Ohio’s universities to reconsider the use of race in scholarship awards and to remove race from admission considerations following a Supreme Court decision in 2023.

In the case of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, the 2023 Supreme Court ruling prompted universities across the U.S. to reassess the role of race in their admissions processes, with many instituting changes, including schools in Florida.

Bethany McCorkle, communications director for the Ohio AG’s office, stated, “Although the Court did not explicitly prohibit race-based scholarships, it suggested that ‘eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.’ Since race-based scholarships entail discrimination based on race in awarding benefits, it logically follows that such programs are unconstitutional.”

The extent of race-based scholarships offered by Ohio universities remains unclear. Many scholarships are granted based on criteria such as athletic prowess, GPA, standardized test scores, class rank, first-generation college status, or essays.

One notable scholarship in Ohio, the Land Grant scholarship at Ohio State, offers a full ride to students meeting Pell eligibility and demonstrating academic prowess, with the aim of awarding it to two students from each of Ohio’s 88 counties.

According to the Common Data Set, which compiles standardized questions about students at each university, very few of Ohio’s public universities base admissions decisions on race. Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati reported using race in the 2022-2023 academic year, but both have since discontinued the practice. The data indicates that when race was a factor, it held less importance than GPA and test scores and was considered on par with a recommendation at these universities.

Miami University and Wright State University reported not using race in admissions for the 2021-2022 school year.

University of Cincinnati officials stated that they ceased considering race in admissions a decade ago. However, it remains unclear why the university indicated the use of race as a factor in the 2022-2023 school year in the Common Data Set.

Jack Miner, vice provost for Enrollment Management at UC, explained that the university now employs a holistic review model, considering a student’s entire application, including academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and admission essays. While race is not a factor in admission decisions, students are allowed to discuss how their racial or community experiences have influenced their development.

Though students may disclose their race or ethnicity in essays, reviewers are prohibited from using this information in their decisions.

Ohio State University ceased considering race in admissions following the Supreme Court ruling last year and is updating scholarship and other student support funds to ensure compliance with the law.