Scholarships, financial aid target low-income families

February 15th, 2007

An increase in federal aid and the reallocation of the University’s scholarship dollars will support John Carroll University’s new aid strategy for low-income families, school administrators said this week.

Addressing questions of how the institution is able to offer such a bold new aid initiative, Brian Williams, vice president for enrollment, stated that the University’s overall level of aid will increase, but not dramatically. “We’re making larger awards to fewer people. And the remainder helps a shift to need-based aid.”

The University is moving away from what was known as the American Values Scholarship, a merit-based award granted to first-year students based on academic achievement, leadership and volunteerism.

The funds from this scholarship are being shifted to two new merit-based programs, according to Williams.

The Presidential Leadership Award will be given to 30-40 incoming first-year students on the basis of leadership ability and potential. The awards will range from a quarter to half of tuition.

According to the Office of Admissions Web site, the Arrupe Scholars Program will be granted to 20 incoming first-year students based on commitment to social justice and community service. Arrupe Scholars will follow a newly created curriculum, participate in service projects, and otherwise remain actively engaged in the campus community.

In addition to the shift in financial aid programs, students are seeing an increase in various federal programs.

The Stafford Loan for incoming first-years, which formerly began as a $2,625 loan, now begins at $3,500.

The American Competitiveness Grant, a new program, is valued at $750. Williams said that the improvements in federal assistance have made the University’s new aid strategy more possible.

Williams noted that by enabling the University to offer more need-based awards to lower income families, revenue will actually increase because retention will grow. “The hope is that by improving these awards that we will be able to focus on the net revenue that these students will still bring to us over four years rather than one or two.

“Low income students have a lower retention than that of the overall freshmen class. By lessening the financial aid barriers we hope to retain these students through graduation,” he said

The new financial aid initiative for lower-income families comes at the end of the inaugural year of the Cleveland Opportunity Scholarship, a program which fully-funded tuition for thirty students of Cleveland’s public and Catholic high schools. Williams stated that the new scholarship was an eye-opener for him and for the administration. “Clearly, there are many more than 30 students who need help to choose JCU.”

The only other program in Ohio that is similar to JCU’s new strategy is at Miami University in Oxford. Their need-based aid provides full tuition to qualifying students whose family income is less than $35,000.

However, unlike the John Carroll initiative, Miami does not cover room and board costs. Nationally, universities like Harvard, UNC-Chapel Hill and Princeton are offering similar aid packages for low-income families.