Lewis University has announced the creation of a new Mission Fund to provide added financial aid for students, particularly for those who are experiencing difficulties in today’s economy. Students whose families face severe financial challenges, such as those experiencing job loss or home foreclosure, will be eligible to apply for grants from this new fund.
“The Mission Fund will provide additional funding to assure that a Lewis education remains attainable,” said Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President. “Throughout its more than 75-year history, Lewis University has been dedicated to providing access to quality education for all qualified students, particularly those in serious need.”
More than 80 percent of Lewis undergraduate students currently receive some form of aid, through scholarships, grants, student employment, or loans. The new fund is designed to assist current students who are facing severe financial challenges that may interfere with their ability to progress toward their undergraduate or graduate degrees.
The Mission Fund will supplement the institutional financial aid funding that is budgeted annually to assist students, such as the $25 million that will be directed to financial aid in the 2009-2010 academic year. This fund reflects the Catholic and Lasallian Mission of Lewis University which is based on the values and priorities of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, patron saint of teachers and founder of the De La Salle Christian Brothers who sponsor Lewis University. His schools revolutionized education, providing programs to prepare students from ordinary working families and the poor for success in the workplace, providing the classroom concept to teach multiple students at once, and opening opportunities for those who were economically disadvantaged.
Lewis University currently provides institutional grants for first-time freshmen, transfer students, international students and alumni families. Lewis University competes as a NCAA Division II institution, and therefore also offers athletic scholarships. Talent scholarships and ROTC scholarships are available as well. Tuition discounts currently are extended to graduate students and the University is considering additional assistance for those involved in its adult degree completion programs as well as graduate offerings.
Many Lewis University students also are eligible to receive funds through various governmental programs, such as Federal Pell Grants, Illinois Monetary Award Program, Illinois Incentive For Access Grant, and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Other resources to students include: Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Montgomery GI Benefits, Silas Purnell IIA Grants, Federal Subsidized Loans, Federal Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal PLUS, Alternative Loans, Federal Work Study, Part-time Employment, and Student Employment Stipends and Endowed Scholarships.
The new Mission Fund, which will be as much as one million dollars, will be directed to current students, such as Alejandro, a 19-year-old freshman who was recently at a crossroads in financing his Lewis University education. As the first of his family to attend college, he experienced difficulty in trying to find sufficient funds to complete payment of his tuition for the spring semester. Family difficulties in a family business and other expenses had depleted his education fund. Alejandro recalled, “I just wanted to give up.”
His concerns were addressed by Tonetta Jones, financial aid counselor at Lewis University. She assisted the student with obtaining financial resources from federal, state and private sources. He qualified for a Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Work Study program, Illinois Monetary Award Program, a federal subsidized loan, a federal unsubsidized loan, and additional funds through the Parent Plus loan program. The grateful student noted, “She was patient with me and worked with me through the whole process.”
Jones emphasized that students should apply early for financial funding, acknowledging that the amounts of his loans could be decreased next year if Alejandro submits financial information earlier and qualifies for other available programs. She anticipates that next year, he would be eligible for at least one more federal grant program as well as institutional funds from Lewis University. After discussing his financial situation with the staff of the Financial Aid Office, Alejandro stated, “That’s the thing about colleges like Lewis, they actually help you. I’m thankful for everything they did for me.”
Lewis University’s financial aid options are expected to make a greater impact when added to the improved opportunities the federal government recently included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Program. The new federal economic stimulus legislation contains $17 billion for additional funding for Pell Grants, $200 million more for Work/Study jobs, and $13 billion for Education Tax Credits.
The significant increase in federal funding and current economic climate has the Lewis University’s Financial Aid Office increasing its efforts to provide resources to students. The office has already offered Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) completion workshops for prospective and current students, and continues to provide additional services. Janeen Decharinte, Director of Lewis University’s Financial Aid Office, commented, “We want to assure that students explore all available opportunities to access or continue their studies.”
The FAFSA form is available through the Lewis Office of Financial Aid Services, high school guidance offices, and on the Internet at: www.fafsa.edu.
“Lewis University has been a leader in actively working to keep the cost of tuition affordable,” explained Ray Kennelly, Vice President for Enrollment Management. A major Chicago newspaper recently listed Lewis as “the most affordable Catholic university in the Chicago metropolitan area” in a tuition survey.
“The University is seeking up to $500,000 in contributions from alumni and community donors, to match the $500,000 in the Mission Fund, all for the benefit of students whose families have been hit hard by the current recession," said Daniel J. Allen, Vice President for University Advancement. For information on the Mission Fund at Lewis University, call University Advancement at (815) 836-5370.
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