WIU Enhances Scholarship Program

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

MACOMB, IL/MOLINE, IL -- Western Illinois University will significantly enhance its Western Commitment Scholarship program for new freshmen applying for Fall 2015. According to WIU Admissions Director Andy Borst, the Western Commitment Scholarship program has increased the number of high-ability students attending the University by 20 percent from 2009 to 2013, and WIU will increase its funding of the automatic scholarship program by approximately 150 percent for the incoming class of 2015.

High school seniors who apply to the Macomb or Moline campuses may receive up to a full-ride scholarship, depending on their ACT/SAT scores and cumulative high school GPA. The program is intended to ensure that students with at least a 20 ACT and a 3.0 GPA receive sufficient financial aid from all sources to attend Western. The current annual cost of attendance at WIU is $20,733, which includes tuition, fees and room and board.

Upon acceptance to Western, students receive an initial merit-based offer ranging from $8,000 to $40,000. Once a student submits the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the scholarship offer is increased depending on financial need to minimize student loans and bridge the gap between federal and state grant aid and students’ direct costs. Similar to the WIU’s Cost Guarantee, which locks direct costs of tuition, fees and room and board for all four years, these scholarships are also locked-in for all four years as long as the student maintains full-time enrollment, a 3.0 cumulative GPA, lives in University housing for three years and remains in good standing as outlined in the student Code of Conduct.

"Our enhanced scholarship program represents our core values of academic excellence and educational opportunity by giving a substantial incentive for our top students in Illinois to stay in-state, while also ensuring that low and middle income families can afford a high-quality public university," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "By strategically targeting our scholarship funds, we will continue to grow our Honors College and serve the citizens of Illinois by providing an affordable option for higher education."

Several out-of-state universities have recently announced enrollment increases for Illinois students and give credit to merit-based scholarship programs. WIU Vice President for Student Services Gary Biller noted that with many high-ability students leaving the state, the Western Commitment Scholarship program offers students with at least a 30 ACT and 3.0 GPA an automatic $40,000 merit scholarship, which equates to full tuition, assuming full-time enrollment. These students will also be invited to a Scholarship Day Oct. 12 to meet with WIU faculty and to compete for one of WIU’s Presidential Scholarships, which provides full tuition, fees and room and board.

"At first glance, what looks like a great merit-based program, is also one of the best scholarship programs in the state to help students afford college," Borst added. "Since the beginning of the recession in 2008, there has been a growing financial gap for many families to pay for college. This program meets that gap for most Illinois students without parents needing to take out additional loans.

"Many of our low and middle income students are being priced out of higher education or asked to take on significant loans to attend a public university, " Borst explained. " By being transparent with our scholarship offers, we hope to ease the pressure of paying for college, while also equipping our recruitment staff with a scholarship offer in a highly competitive student market of fewer high school graduates and more schools coming to Illinois looking for students."

For more information about the Western Commitment Scholarship Program at WIU, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at (309) 298-3100, or email admissions@wiu.edu.