Financial Incentives Colleges Are Offering for Student Vaccinations

Covid-19 Vaccination.
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As of Aug. 6, 664 American colleges and universities are requiring vaccinations for new and returning students, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Many others are only encouraging vaccination — but virtually everyone is engaged in a hot debate on which way is the right way to go. 

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A smaller collection of schools is moving in the other direction and using the carrot instead of the stick. Meet the schools that are offering incentives for voluntary vaccination instead of refusing students who fail to comply.

  • Auburn University: Auburn is located in Alabama, where only a little more than 1 in 3 residents are fully vaccinated compared to about half nationwide, according to CNN, giving the state one of America’s sorriest vaccination rates. Auburn is trying to change all that by holding drawings to give away $1,000 scholarships and a bunch of cool alternative prizes, including employee parking passes and unlimited meal plans.
  • Central Michigan University: CMU is giving away four scholarships that are each good for a full year of tuition. Hundreds of gift cards will also be given away over the course of four drawings.

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  • Colorado Community College System: The 13 colleges of the Colorado Community College System do not require proof of vaccination to attend classes — its scholarship incentive program is designed to slow the spread of the virus without a mandate. Each CCC school is giving away five $1,000 scholarships and there are also two $5,000 awards system-wide that each cover the full cost of tuition. There are 67 scholarship opportunities in total.
  • Illinois State University: Students who are fully vaccinated by the first day of class are eligible to win one of 100 scholarships worth $1,000 each. Another 75 students will win a $100 prize in the form of Flex Dollars that will be added to the Redbird ID Card.
  • Miami University: Miami University — the one in Oxford, Ohio — is holding drawings throughout August and September to give away several kinds of prizes. Top billing goes to a scholarship equivalent to one Tuition Promise semester of in-state tuition and fees worth up to $8,128. Other prizes include a $3,000 meal plan and $5,000 in cash.
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  • Ohio University: The Bobcats Get Vaxxed program incentivizes the shot with five weeks of prizes. Prizes from the first four weeks include $500 scholarships or alternative prizes like a free professional photoshoot or a drink named in your honor at the campus coffee shop. The grand prize from week five is full in-state tuition for the fall semester.
  • Ohio Wesleyan University: At the end of July, Ohio Wesleyan announced it was opening 50 new spots for the fall semester, each complete with a $25,000 scholarship. As long as they’re fully vaccinated, the winners will be fast-tracked into enrollment.
  • University of Alabama: Anyone who uploads proof of vaccination by 5 p.m. on Aug. 28 will receive $20 in their Bama Cash account through the University of Alabama’s Protect Our Herd initiative.
  • University of Wisconsin: In July, the president of the UW System introduced “70 for 70,” a campaign to achieve a 70% vaccination rate across the entire UW system. Anyone attending a school in the system with a vaccination rate of 70% will be eligible for one of 70 scholarships worth $7,000 each.
  • Walsh University: Walsh University is offering 21 scholarships for returning undergraduates that are good for free tuition for the spring semester. The school is also giving out 10 scholarships that are open to current and returning students in both graduate and undergraduate programs. You can enter after receiving just one shot.
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Last updated: Aug. 10, 2021

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.
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