Creative Financial Aid

In these tough economic times, many private colleges and universities are getting creative in coming up with ways to help students out. Whether it is black and white pricing, schools subsidizing internships, universities offering programs to reduce loan debt, or just programs to help out with the cost of textbooks, schools across the nation are trying different initiatives to help out students.
Calculate Your Scholarship
At Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA, students see the cost of tuition and fees upfront. That’s because LVC awards merit-based aid based on the student’s high school achievements. It’s what LVC commonly refers to as calculating your own scholarship.

Students who graduate in the top 30 percent of their class receive the Achievement Award of $7,163 or one-quarter off their tuition. Students who graduate in the top 20 percent of their high school class receive the Leadership Award and get $9,550 off their college tuition. Finally students in the top ten percent of their graduating class receive half-off, or a $14,325 reduction in their tuition cost.
“The program has been a terrific tool for both recruitment and retention,” said Bill Brown, vice president of enrollment at Lebanon Valley College. The program not only offers financial assistance, but it creates an incentive for continued academic achievement among recipients as a result of its academic requirements for yearly renewal.  
A College Stimulus
High school achievement is not the only avenue for financial aid. Students at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA, were offered a number of options as a part of the “Boldly Baldwin Stimulus Package.” 

The most interesting program is what folks at Mary Baldwin are calling the “Changemakers” program. The school is creating 50 new paid internship positions for students. Students will do everything from volunteering around Augusta County to work related to conservation efforts on campus. In total, Mary Baldwin College reinvested $700,000 back into student financial aid.
Loan Reductions
Students at Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, TN, can receive loan reductions as a result of their academic status. Sewanee students who achieve a 3.25 cumulative grade point average, or better, on a 4.0 scale, receive nearly half-off of their need-based loan debt. This means that a student who has a $6,500 loan their first year could have that reduced by $3,000 in their second and succeeding year, if they maintain the required academic grade point average.
Textbook Rentals
While tuition costs are the main source of college students’ financial strife, they are not the sole expense. College students spend hundreds of dollars a semester on textbooks, which some professors may even rarely reference. Steve VanderVeen, professor of marketing and the director of the Center of Faith Leadership, Hope College, Holland MI, decided he would help save students money by renting them textbooks. The money VanderVeen raises from the renting textbooks is rolled back into the Institute for Project-based Learning (IPL), an organization created by VanderVeen.

“Although the transmission of textbook knowledge has its place in education, the best learning is experiential learning guided by mentors, using textbook knowledge as a base,” said VanderVeen. “I wanted to save the students a little money. It turns out I can save them a lot of money and improve their education by buying almost-new editions of textbooks and renting them.”

Heather Cummings
is an intern for Dick Jones Communications. She can be contacted at 814/867-1963 or

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