Wesleyan Replaces Loans with Grants for Neediest Students
Wesleyan University will eliminate loans for its
neediest undergraduates and replace these with additional grants, President
Michael S. Roth has announced. The policy will be part of a new initiative
to reduce overall student indebtedness by 35 percent to make Wesleyan even
more accessible to students regardless of their financial capacity.
"Access to a Wesleyan education for students from all backgrounds has long
been one of the core values of this community," Roth says. "It remains one
of our highest priorities. As I begin my presidency, I see this new effort
as a down payment on our goal to endow financial aid and need-blind
admission more fully in the next campaign." Roth was formally inaugurated as
Wesleyan's 16th president at ceremonies on campus on Nov. 2.
Beginning with the first-year class enrolling in the fall of 2008, most
students whose total family incomes are $40,000 per year or less will
receive an aid package that substitutes grants for any loan obligation.
Beginning with the same class, all other students who receive aid will
graduate with a four-year total loan indebtedness reduced by an average of
35 percent. Aid packages will include a single student loan, the federally
subsidized Stafford Loan. The interest rates for Stafford Loans are among
the lowest available.
Wesleyan will raise endowment sufficient to fund the $3.2 million annual
cost of this initiative. In fact, preliminary conversations with Wesleyan
donors about the goal of reducing student indebtedness already have yielded
over $10 million in new commitments to student aid, Roth reported.
Wesleyan admits students without regard to their financial circumstances and
then provides a financial aid package that meets each student's full
demonstrated need. Forty percent of its 2,900 students currently receive
grant aid. The average grant is $27,151. Wesleyan currently budgets $35.4
million of its own resources annually for grant aid for undergraduates.
Federal and state sources contribute an additional $2.7 million.
Since the 1960s, Wesleyan has aggressively pursued diversity in the form of
affirmative action and need-blind admissions.
Thirteen percent of Wesleyan students currently receive Pell grants; the
federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income
undergraduate students to promote access to postsecondary education.
Wesleyan also is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Upward Bound
program. Upward Bound is an educational opportunity outreach program
supported through federal TRIO funding, as well as through grants from
Connecticut Department of Education and the boards of education of the
Middletown, Meriden and Portland schools; it provides fundamental support to
low-income students in their preparation for college. Wesleyan recently
received a TRIO grant to establish a Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate
Achievement Program focused on students in the sciences; the McNair program
prepares students from disadvantaged backgrounds and who have demonstrated
high academic potential for doctoral studies through involvement in research
and other scholarly activities.
By Justin Harmon, vice president of Public