OHIO — Ohio Wesleyan is trying to boost vaccination rates by offering new incoming or transferring students $25,000 in financial aid, which will be renewable each year.

The school, which plans to have all in-person classes this fall, is asking all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The financial aid money will only go to 50 students who are eligible. The students must apply to the school's fast-track program first by Aug. 9 in order to be considered for the funds.

The fast-track program will allow the student to be admitted and enrolled by the time classes start Aug. 25. Students in this program will be provided the $25,000 a year. 

“Currently, only a handful of colleges in Ohio are requiring all students to be vaccinated,” said Stefanie Niles, Ohio Wesleyan’s vice president for enrollment and communications in a press release Tuesday. “We know that many students out there would prefer to live and learn on a campus where they feel safe and where they know they won’t have to experience another year of mask-wearing and social distancing. We can offer that at Ohio Wesleyan.”

Ohio Wesleyan is among the few private institutions in the state mandating students get the COVID-19 vaccine, including Kenyon College, Mount St. Joseph and the College of Wooster. 

On Monday, the Ohio Department of Health released its recommendations for the upcoming school year, urging students and educators to get vaccinated. 

The recommendations come as Ohio and other states are seeing another spike of COVID-19 cases, driven by the spread of the delta variant, according to Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the ODH chief medical officer. 

“It simply takes less of this virus to spread from the mouth or the nose of an affected person to that of another non-affected person," Vanderhoff said. 

A little more than 45% of Ohio's population is completely vaccinated, according to state data.