Rutgers discount proves similar to existing merit award

Following Seton Hall’s Rutgers tuition initiative, which will slash tuition prices for qualified incoming freshman, there has been an approximately 50 percent increase in the amount of people attending the school’s open houses, according to Alyssa McCloud, vice president of Enrollment Management.

The tuition cut, however, is not very different than the scholarship program the University currently has, which she said was “very generous.”

According to McCloud, the tuition cut is essentially offering students who would have received an automatic merit scholarship get the reduced price instead, which she said reduces the anxiety of trying to figure out the cost of a college education.

In spite of what McCloud called a “strong showing,” at the open houses, the number of applications has not increased from this time last year, she said.

“But it’s very early,” McCloud said of the application season. According to McCloud, most applications don’t begin arriving until after Christmas break.

According to McCloud, about 90 percent of current students receive some form of aid from the University, whether it is a merit scholarship or financial aid, and the University currently gives out $62 million to students in total aid, which includes merit-based aid and need-based aid. McCloud said she did not know what percentage that amount was of the total annual University budget.

“Applying to college has become increasingly stressful,” McCloud said, adding that students often have to do complicated calculations and lay out spreadsheets to figure out the bottom line price of their education by subtracting the aid they received from the original cost.

Cutting the tuition price right off the top, she said, will save students one step in the often-complicated decision-making process.

While the program hopes to attract more students, and, in particular, more students who performed well in high school, McCloud said the University looked into the cost of offering students the discounted rate and they don’t expect it to cause any budgetary problem.

“The University has been very prudent, and is very committed to meeting the needs of the students,” she said, explaining that the University would be able to cover the cost of the public school tuition program.

“(The tuition program) allows us to reward high-school students who have worked hard and will do well here (at Seton Hall,)” McCloud said.

According to McCloud, those students who qualify will not receive automatic merit scholarships as they did in the past, however the students can still apply for other scholarships such as the Martin Luther King scholarship and the Provost’s scholarship, and if they fill out FAFSA and qualify, they will be afforded need-based aid as well.

“Those kinds of scholarships (and aid) still require us to take an application and wait,” McCloud said, so they cannot offer an additionally discounted rate, however, McCloud said she felt the merit-based tuition cut made the process a little easier.

In addition, students who do not qualify for the public tuition program can still receive automatic merit scholarships, just as students have been awarded in the past.

McCloud said the public tuition program is the highest automatic merit scholarship an incoming student can receive, however there will be other, slightly smaller scholarships offered to students who do not meet all the qualifications for the public tuition program.

McCloud explained it as a staircase, with the top stair the public tuition program. Students who qualify will get the bottom line slashed as advertised, but students who still qualify for other scholarships will be informed, through a letter as in past years, that they have qualified for a merit scholarship with the scholarship amount listed.

Those students will not receive a similar change in bottom line equal to their scholarship amount, as in years past; they will have to calculate the bottom line for themselves.

She said the qualifications and scholarship amounts for each “stair” are slightly flexible, but comparable each year, though the qualifications and corresponding scholarship amounts are not made public.

McCloud added that the program will not affect any merit or need-based aid current students receive, and that the aid current students receive will remain the same in the coming year as long as the students continue to qualify for the awards.

According to the Seton Hall website, the tuition cut will allow Seton Hall students entering as freshman in the 2012 academic year to pay Rutgers tuition prices, or, $10,104 per year.

To qualify for the public tuition program, the student must be a first-time, full-time freshman applicant coming directly out of high-school, have a minimum composite ACT score of 27, or a combined score of 1200 on the SAT with no less than a 550 in either the math or reading section.

Dennis Garbini, vice president for finance and technology, did not wish to comment.

Caitlin Carroll can be reached at Follow Caitlin on Twitter @CaitiGirl

Author: Staff Writer

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