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W&L Promise will apply to both freshmen and upperclassmen whose family income is less than $75,000 a year.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Washington and Lee University announced Monday that starting next fall, students will not pay tuition if their family income is less than $75,000 a year.
“We just believe there are very, very good students who think, ‘My gosh, I could never afford to go there,’ ” President Kenneth Ruscio said. “We want to send the message, ‘Don’t let your financial circumstances get in the way of considering a place like Washington and Lee.’ ”
The new program, W&L Promise, will apply to both incoming freshmen and upperclassmen. Current tuition is $43,570. Students might also qualify for grants and work-study jobs to offset the room, board, books and fees that this year boost the cost to attend Washington and Lee to $59,313.
Ruscio said the new program is a continuation of the university’s effort to diversify the student body, and it builds on the Johnson Scholarship that covers all costs each year for 44 exceptionally qualified students.
Half of Washington and Lee students qualify for financial aid and receive average grants of about $39,000.
“It’s not like this represents a dramatic change as to how we approach tuition and financial aid,” Ruscio said. “What it does represent is a new message for students who think they can’t afford to go here.”
The goal of W&L Promise is to diversify the student body along “social-economic, geographical, racial, ethnic — the widest possible use of the term,” he said. The program will be funded by a $160 million endowment expected to be set up from the university’s $500 million campaign.
Ruscio said that $430 million has been raised in the campaign that runs until July 2015; of that, $132 million is designated for need-based financial aid.
Though the university seeks a more diversified student body, applicants will still go through the usual process.
“They would not be considered a special category,” Ruscio said.
Washington and Lee last year received 6,222 applicants from which it admitted 480 students.
Ruscio said he doesn’t expect that the number of applicants would rise but that the pool would include more bright students who might have thought the university was beyond their financial means.
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