Winter 2009: Features
Making Emory Possible
Emory Advantage reaches middle-income students
By Paige P. Parvin 96G
Nearly eighty years after Jake Ward came to Emory as a freshman, Andrew Hull 12C arrived, bags and boxes in tow, to begin his own college experience. In many ways, the two share similar backgrounds—like Ward, Hull is from a small Georgia town (Bonaire) and a family of modest means. Like Ward, Hull is interested in a career in academia. And like Ward, Hull was proud, nervous, and eager to absorb all that Emory has to offer.
But there is a key difference between Ward’s experience and Hull’s, and it’s more than the computer access in every dorm room and cell phone in every bookbag. Hull qualified for Emory Advantage, a financial aid program created in 2007 especially for low- and middle-income students. The program offers two kinds of aid: the Loan Replacement Grant replaces loans for dependent undergraduate students whose families’ annual total incomes are $50,000 or less, while the Loan Cap Program caps cumulative need-based debt at $15,000 for dependent undergraduate students whose families’ annual total incomes are between $50,000 and $100,000.
In today’s economy, programs like Emory Advantage are the only chance for many promising students to attend a school with a $40,000-a-year price tag.
“The vision for Emory Advantage is to ensure that no capable student is turned away from Emory because they can’t afford it,” says President James Wagner. “It’s an advantage for Emory and, indeed, a necessity, to provide the same kind of education for all our students. We need all kinds of diversity—cultural, racial, gender—and economic diversity.”
Hull, who plans to major in math and philosophy, is well aware of the benefits of Emory Advantage. His father had a stroke several years ago, and his family has struggled to make it on his dad’s Social Security and pension. “There was almost no chance I would be able to go to such a great institution like this without huge amounts of debt,” he says.
Willow Wood 08OX 10C has a passion for preserving the environment and a keen interest in geology. Her aunt and uncle attended Oxford College, and Wood, who is from Houston, Texas, dreamed of following in their footsteps. The oldest of four girls, she knew it would be tough—her mom is a carriage driver and her dad, who is disabled, has worked in the restaurant industry.
“I grew up on stories of Oxford, and I knew it was a special place,” she says. “Now I’m there, too, because of Emory Advantage. I can take a full class load without working full time as well. And I don’t have to worry about graduating with a huge debt. There is no way I could have gone there otherwise.”
Wood is now a junior majoring in environmental science with a focus on physical geology. She and Hull are just two of some 450 students—all facing their own financial roadblocks—for whom Emory Advantage made, literally, all the difference.