Seattle University Offers Additional Aid for Low-Income Students

Seattle University

Three years ago, Seattle University began an experiment to see if they could give additional financial aid to promising low-income students, and, so far, it’s working. The program is simple: Low-income students who earn a strong GPA in their first quarter of school receive an additional $1,000 incentive. And, if those students keep their GPA above a 3.0, they continue to receive extra money year-over-year. It’s called a Challenge Grant.

The grants, which were recently cited in a study by the education consulting firm EAB, offer a new way to look at financial aid. Their goal is to focus on students who are low-income but didn’t receive as much, if any, aid based on merit.

The reality is that just because a student didn’t earn top high-school grades or impressive SAT scores, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve merit-based aid once in college. And the problem is that these low-income students are at high risk of dropping out, so the grants have the goal of offsetting the high cost of tuition and keeping students in school.

“When they first arrive on campus, these students get a letter that connects them to resources that can help academically, such as the university’s learning-assistance programs,” Josh Krawczyk, the director of university retention initiatives, told the Seattle Times. “And they also learn about the incentive bonus, in which the university offers them the $1,000 in extra grant money in their first year if they earn a 3.0 GPA their first quarter.”

$1,000 may not sound like a lot of money for low-income students, but it is helpful and a way to tell students, “you’re doing a great job.” And, if students continue to earn a cumulative 3.0 GPA for the remainder of their first year and on, they’ll receive the $1,000 bonus for the rest of their college years—a unique opportunity considering most colleges don’t adjust the size of an aid package once a student has been admitted.

Last year, 60 out of 90 students earned the Challenge Grants. “It’s a big win for us,” Krawczyk said. And, now, the grants include transfer students.


About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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