Emory Report
January 16, 2007
Volume 59, Number 15




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January 16 , 2007
Emory slashes debt burden for undergrads

By elaine justice

Emory has created Emory Advantage, a program of financial aid initiatives that will help lower- and middle-income students and families reduce debt incurred during the undergraduate years. The changes will begin in the 2007–08 academic year, marking one of the most aggressive programs devised by a national research university to enhance accessibility and affordability.

“These new programs will make it possible for any qualified student to obtain the advantages of an Emory education regardless of family background or circumstance,” President Jim Wagner said. “We are especially concerned to address the particular needs of many middle-income families, who ironically make too much money to qualify for many types of financial aid, but who find themselves unable to afford four years of college education without incurring substantial levels of debt.”

Under Emory’s new Loan Replacement Grant, students whose families demonstrate financial need and have assessed income of $50,000 or less will graduate with no need-based loans from their four undergraduate years. Emory’s new Loan Cap Program will assist students from families with assessed income between $50,001 to $100,000 by capping their total need-based loan amount over four years at $15,000.

“We believe that extending loan caps to families making up to $100,000 is rare, if not unique, among our peers,” Provost Earl Lewis said. “Most other loan replacement or loan cap programs are aimed primarily at low-income students.”

“We are committed to providing access to an Emory education for all students,” Wagner said. “An important goal is to foster further excellence of our academic community with the inclusion of highly talented students who would not have felt able to seriously consider applying to Emory in the past.”

The new Loan Replacement Grant will be available to students in all four of Emory’s undergraduate divisions — the two-year Oxford College, the four-year Emory College, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Goizueta Business School. The Loan Cap Program will be available to students beginning enrollment in 2007.

In another initiative announced today, Emory is rolling out new Liberal Arts Scholarships for semi-finalists applying for the University’s long-time Emory Scholars Program, recognizing outstanding academic achievement, talent, leadership and community service among high school students. The Emory Scholars program began in 1979 as a result of the $103 million gift from the Woodruff Foundation; each year the University awards some 70 scholarships to outstanding entering freshmen, including Woodruff Scholarships.

Emory also will enhance its Dean’s Achievement Scholarships, rewarding academic achievement, leadership and community service among rising Emory sophomores, juniors and seniors who did not receive a merit scholarship coming from high school. “The opportunity to receive merit-based awards as a function of college performance is rare,” said Robert Paul, dean of Emory College.

“We greatly value rewarding students for their ongoing excellent work in Emory College,” said Thomas Lancaster, senior associate dean for undergraduate education and administrator of the program. The Dean’s Achievement Scholars will be selected after the spring semester by a comprehensive selection committee comprised of faculty from across the university and alumni, Lancaster said. Those selected will become part of the Emory Scholars Program.

Once fully implemented, the University’s investment in these initiatives will be about $7 million per year (in today’s dollars). Emory’s Strategic Plan funds will support the new programs for the first five years. They will be sustained by reallocating existing endowment streams of approximately $150 million and by raising at least an additional $75 million in endowment by the end of those five years, Wagner said.