The Cardinal Newman scholarship, Newman’s most prestigious academic scholarship award, will no longer be a full-tuition award after this year.
Kristen English, director of undergraduate admissions, said the admissions team has already publicized in high schools that the 2019 Cardinal Newman scholarship will remain the highest academic scholarship, but will instead be a fixed amount less than full tuition.
“I anticipate that this scholarship will still cover more than 90 percent of the scholar’s tuition, which is extraordinarily generous on the part of the university,” English said.
The change will not affect those who were awarded the scholarship already or the incoming freshmen class for the fall of 2018.
The ASC Community Leadership Scholarship, Newman’s other scholarship award, will remain at its current value of $15,500 for next year. English said scholarship values are reassessed annually.
English said the change was motivated in part by a desire to meet the full recommended financial need amount by the FAFSA for students coming to the university. Because Newman is a tuition dependent private school, she said, the university was not always able to provide students with the aid they needed like larger public schools.
“We love the Cardinal Newman Scholarship. We want to recognize and celebrate our highest achieving students. But we also want to have money to support other students as well,” English said. “Because our financial resources are limited, we are basically trying to share the wealth a little bit more and give other students an opportunity for aid, especially students who might really need it.”
To qualify for Cardinal Newman, students have to be admitted to the university, file a FAFSA, and must have a 3.9 GPA and a 29 or higher ACT composite score.
The number of students who are awarded the scholarship has gone down in recent years.
The scholarship used to be given to all students who met the academic requirements. English said in the fall of 2012, there were 29 Cardinal Newman scholars in a freshman class of around 200 students.
In 2014 the scholarship was made competitive and the following years saw around 10 Cardinal Newman Scholars. Last year only four received the scholarship. English said the plan for the future is to award around five.
This year the application process involves submitting an essay response to a prompt, and a 20-minute interview. The interview was not part of the process in recent years. Each interview will have three panelists. Panelists include faculty, current student leaders on campus, and a handful of alumni. Six faculty sit on a committee that will decide who receives the scholarship.
“I think this is going to give you a better glimpse into which kinds of students will be the best fit for our community, and how interested they are in Newman,” English said. “It’s going to be tough, honestly, because all of these students are exceptional.”
Students who have received the scholarship in the past say they are disappointed by the university’s decision to reduce it.
“I’m not happy to hear about it… I know it gave a lot of people who could not go to college the opportunity to go to college,” senior Jacob Hobbie said.
Hobbie said he understood and agreed with the university’s desire to provide more need-based scholarships, but he also said he personally may not have been able to go to Newman if he did not get the scholarship. He said if he had to pay more he would have needed to work more off -campus and be less involved in campus activities.
Senior Rebecca Tyndall said she does not think she could have gone to Newman if not for the full-tuition discount from the Cardinal Newman scholarship and was “saddened” that it was getting reduced. She also said the reduced scholarship may attract a less diverse group of students than it did before.
“I think it will affect the socioeconomic background of students… I believe the students who are able to come here through the reduced-scholarship might just be the ones looking specifically for a private Catholic institution with the background to afford the school, and not necessarily the diverse group of academic people that have been receiving the scholarship in the past,” Tyndall said.
Tyndall said she hopes the students that receive the scholarship in the future can still appreciate it for what it is.
Sophomore Maddie Dellinger said although she was not a Cardinal Newman scholarship recipient, she still had “mixed emotions” about the redistribution of the tuition discount.
“Honestly, I think it is important for every university to offer a full-tuition academic scholarship. I think whether high income or low income, the people that get it work hard and deserve it. However, if I get more money it will certainly help me and my family out,” she said.
English said the decision to reduce the Cardinal Newman Scholarship’s amount was not easy, but that it was necessary.
“While we understand there’s a difference between very generous and full tuition, we really feel good about what we are doing already to recognize these students’ academic accomplishments and meet as much of their financial need as we can,” she said.
This story first appeared in the March 1, 2018 issue of The Vantage.