Next week, applications will open for the Trustee Progress Award, a new scholarship for University of Dallas students who are Pell Grant recipients due to financial need. Several trustee members created this scholarship in February as a way to help students meet the rising cost of tuition.
Tuition rises by 5 percent at UD every year, putting Pell Grant students at a disadvantage, according to Director of Financial Aid Taryn Anderson. Students who are already struggling financially during their freshman year find it extremely difficult to pay even an extra $1,000 their sophomore year, Anderson said.
The trustees’ initiative was prompted by a recent Feb.18 Wall Street Journal article that published data showing that Pell Grant recipient students at UD are less likely than other students to graduate within four years.
The article used 2011 data from students at top colleges, including UD. The data showed that in 2011, 26.7 percent of UD students received Pell Grants. But even with the grants, these students struggled more than others to graduate. Only about 51 percent of Pell Grant recipients who came to UD in 2011 graduated within four years, compared to 77 percent of non-Pell Grant recipients.
“All costs are increasing each year,” said Interim President Dr. John Plotts. “Maintenance costs go up as well as the money needed for faculty and staff raises and faculty travel budgets because of inflation. Scholarships remain the same. It would be great if we had a bigger endowment and some more students. But, honestly, I just wish we had more scholarships for kids.”
The trustees on the Academic Affairs Committee are helping to make Plotts’ wish come true.
According to Anderson, at a Feb. 22 meeting, the Academic Affairs Committee discussed the financial disadvantage of Pell Grant students as described by the Wall Street Journal article. Afterwards, several trustees came up with the idea of a new fund for Pell Grant students to help alleviate the financial burden of rising tuition.
Without soliciting any outside help, the trustees raised $4,000 to create the Trustee Progress Award, Anderson said
Anderson said that the university is always ready to help students who are struggling financially as much as possible. Numerous scholarships are open to all students.
The Progress Award is trying to fill the gap between financially secure students who graduate and financially needy students who have trouble graduating, Anderson said.
“We want to help needy students who are already here and are doing well,” Anderson said. “Our goal is for every student to be able to afford UD.”
Four $1,000 scholarships will be available for current UD students who are Pell Grant recipients for the next academic year, Anderson said. The online application will come out soon on the UD scholarship page and the deadline for application will be during the first week of April.
The amount of money put towards the fund will depend on donors and so there is not a set sum or number of scholarships, Anderson said. Anderson hopes that once data shows positive results of the scholarship in retaining these students, the scholarship will receive more funding.
Although the UD graduates fewer Pell Grant recipients than students without Pell Grants, UD still has a higher retention rate of all students than most other universities, according to the Wall Street Journal article.
Anderson said that the university is already doing well retaining students. The new Trustee Scholarship will bring the success of the university and its students to a higher level. The scholarship will help strengthen the bonds of the UD community, retaining members who might not remain without the extra funding, Anderson said.