Frequently Asked Questions (An Introduction to OSCA)

What is OSCA?

Answer: 

OSCA is a student-owned and student-operated non-profit corporation that provides at-cost housing and dining services to hundreds of students at Oberlin.

What Does OSCA Stand For?

Answer: 

OSCA is an acronym for the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association. It is pronounced “AH-skuh”. If you hear people refer to “the co-ops,” they’re probably talking about OSCA.

Who Is a Member of OSCA?

Answer: 

615 Oberlin students—about 22% of campus—are members of OSCA each semester. 174 of these co-opers are in housing co-ops, meaning they eat, sleep, and live in co-ops.

What Makes a Co-operative?

Answer: 

A co-op is a business directly controlled by its members. Members are user-owners; they patronize the business but also own its earnings and assets equally.

What are Programmed Co-ops?

Answer: 

Third World Co-op (located in Baldwin, no affiliation to Third World House) is a special interest co-op, geared to serve specific needs that the other co-ops may not

Is OSCA Student-Run?

Answer: 

When you hear that students run OSCA, it’s not just a slogan.

Do Students Save Money by Being in OSCA?

Answer: 

OSCA charges less than the College-run programs for both housing and dining. Most underclass students are required to live on campus, and almost all students eat on campus.

What Work Do Co-opers Do?

Answer: 

Each co-op has a workchart to organize the work of all of its members. In dining co-ops, each co-oper does 4-5 hours of volunteer work per week.

What is OSCA’s Relationship with the College?

Answer: 

OSCA rents its on-campus buildings from the College, so the primary relationship between Oberlin College and OSCA is a tenant- landlord relationship.

Can I Join You for a Meal?

Answer: 

If you know students in OSCA, it’s likely that you’ll get an invitation to a meal. If not, don’t hesitate to ask if you can visit their co-op.

OSCA Statistics

Answer: 
  • OSCA’s budget is around $2.9 million per year.
  • OSCA houses 174 students, and feeds 601.
  • 20-25% of the student body is in OSCA.

I Want to Know More!

Answer: 

If you have questions about OSCA, or you want more information, you can call or visit the OSCA office.

What are OSCA's Office Hours?

Answer: 

If you’re not sure exactly who you want to talk with, contact the OSCA Office between 12:00 and 4 PM, Monday through Thursday.

Where is OSCA's Office Located?

Answer: 
  • Wilder 402 (Finance Office)
  • Wilder 406 (Business Office)

What Other Ways Can I Contact OSCA?

Answer: 

Campus address: Wilder Hall Room 406
Telephone: (440) 775-8108
E-mail: osca@oberlin.edu

How do I join OSCA? (I am a returning Oberlin student)

Answer: 

In the Spring, students returning to Oberlin fill out an OSCA Upperclass Lottery Form (online) listing all their co-op preferences (as well as checking off OSCA as a preference on the Residential E

How do I join OSCA? (I am a new Oberlin student)

Answer: 

New students must participate in the new student lottery by going to OSCA’s website and filling out the new student application form. The new student lottery is held mid-June.

How does the wait list work?

Answer: 

During the Spring and New Student lottery (two separate lotteries), members are assigned a random lottery number.

Am I still on the wait list if I got placed into a co-op?

Answer: 

Everyone on the wait list remains on the wait list until they get into their first-choice co-op.

Is there a way to get off of the wait list faster?

Answer: 

If you select as many co-op options as possible, there is a higher likelihood you will get off of the wait list faster.

Is there a way to circumvent the wait list due to accessibility/dietary needs?

Answer: 

The longer answer: Due to our tax status, we cannot prioritize any student over another on the wait list. However, if you are already in OSCA, there are ways to switch you between co-ops.

I submitted a release request form but I’m still in OSCA! Why?

Answer: 

Due to our rent contract with the college, co-op releases can only be processed on certain days, and become effective by our effective dates. These dates are outlined HERE .

I got on the wait list in the beginning of the semester but still haven’t been placed! Why?

Answer: 

Did you fill out the Fall/Spring wait list confirmation form? If not, you are no longer on the wait list! If you did, it may just be that no vacancies have opened up yet!

What happens if I’m going to be away from Oberlin in the Fall? Can I still enter the lottery?

Answer: 

Yes. If you know you will be LOA (leave of absence) for the Fall semester, you still need to sign up for the lottery to obtain a lottery number.

How much is my OSCA bill?

Answer: 

OSCA offers significant savings over regular campus dining and housing. At the end of each financial year, any leftover money is refunded to the membership.

How much do I save by being in OSCA?

Answer: 

Lots! Compare our costs with the advertised prices of Oberlin College housing and dining.

What happens if I can’t make a payment?

Answer: 

OSCA offers payment plans, and the OSCA Foundation offers Financial Need Scholarships allocated at $500 and $1,000 award amounts.

I’m waiting on loans and scholarships to pay my semester bill. What do I do?

Answer: 

Be aware that loans and scholarships are applied directly to your account at the Oberlin College’s Office of Student Accounts.

Do I get the $75 advance deposit back?

Answer: 

No. It’s applied to your Fall semester bill unless you notify OSCA by August 1st that you will not be in OSCA for the Fall.

What if I join/leave OSCA mid-semester?

Answer: 

You will be charged or refunded for the number of whole weeks remaining in the semester on the effective date of your co-op entry or departure.

When will I get my annual refund? How big will it be?

Answer: 

Assuming your co-op stayed under budget throughout the fiscal year, you will receive a refund check after the end of the prior year fiscal year (June 30th), likely in late October or early November