Decades before the media began focusing on the cost and value of higher education, Gettysburg College was already committed to being in reach of every qualified student. In fact, nearly 70 percent of our students receive need-based aid or scholarships. Though financial aid has made Gettysburg possible for generations of students, many misconceptions remain about where aid comes from and who gets it. We asked Director of Financial Aid Chris Gormley to set the record straight.
How do we fund financial aid?
Gettysburg awarded $45.2 million in scholarships and grants for the 2012-13 academic year. The majority of those funds — almost 94 percent — is allocated from the College operating budget; 6 percent is from endowed funds for scholarships. Financial aid packages offered by Gettysburg College need to be competitive with those available from our peer institutions.
What do students get?
The average student financial aid award for 2012-13 is $33,259. Gettysburg College grants vary from $500 to $43,430, based on financial need. Aid packages include a self-help portion along with the award of a student loan (federal and/or institutional) and/or work-study. Almost half of our students have on-campus jobs.
Merit-based scholarships, which recognize academic achievement in high school, range from $7,000 to $25,000 per year. Based upon audition, talented musicians can be considered for music scholarships associated with the Sunderman Conservatory of Music.
The College also awards federal and state aid for which students may be eligible, including federal Pell grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, state grants, and federal and institutional student loans.
What do you find that people misunderstand about financial aid? What are the biggest misperceptions?
One common misunderstanding is the idea that all schools approach financial aid the same way. Schools do not have the same financial resources, policies, or practices. We provide our “Investing in Your Future” guide, the Net Price Calculator (for a preliminary estimate), and personal financial aid counseling for prospective students and their families. They need to ask every school the same questions.
Another misperception is that financial aid funds are unlimited or that all funds originate from outside sources. The long-term effects of the downturn in the economy have affected many of our families, and their increased financial need continues to challenge the College’s financial aid budget.
Gettysburg budgeted $45.2 million for financial aid in 2012-13, 94 percent from funds for current operations and 6 percent from the endowment. Gifts to the endowment and Gettysburg Fund designated for scholarships allow the College to direct funds towards other necessary expenditures.
Who receives financial aid? Is it true the middle class is getting squeezed out?
About 70 percent of our students receive need-based financial aid or scholarships. Our office works personally with families from varied circumstances and income levels. For some, a college education wouldn’t be possible without significant financial assistance. Others find they need to know the options they have to make Gettysburg College a feasible investment.
There are students whose parents make over $100,000 per year (well above the federally-defined “middle class”) who would not be able to attend Gettysburg without financial aid. Since our financial aid calculations take into account the number in the family and the number in college, families with multiple college-aged children who have higher incomes may still qualify for need-based financial aid. Here’s a snapshot from a recent year:
What is the average Gettysburg student’s debt at graduation, and how does it compare nationally?
This is definitely a hot topic in the media and one which we’ve been discussing with families.
Student debt amounts of Gettysburg College graduates are currently below the national average and it is important to keep them there. For the Class of 2011, the national average federal student loan debt was $25,250. Gettysburg’s average was $18,748. Generally, our peers (highly selective national liberal arts colleges) have student loan debt averages similar to ours.
Scholarship support not only makes attending Gettysburg possible, it also helps to spare graduates excessive and debilitating debt. Keeping student debt to a minimum gives Gettysburg alumni more flexibility to attend graduate and professional schools, engage in public service, and pursue their professional passions.
"Throughout the years, my colleagues and I have been fortunate to hear from families who are incredibly appreciative of the financial support provided to their student. Those hundreds of thank-you notes, emails, and phone calls come to us, but they extend to the alumni, parents, and friends of the College who have chosen to provide support for financial aid and scholarships." — Director of Financial Aid Chris Gormley
Funding a healthy future
Ever since she was a child, Keanna Voso ’14 has been interested in health care.
In her junior year of high school, her mother was hospitalized. “She was in the hospital for a good portion of that year,” said Voso. “I learned a lot about the role of a nurse.”
As a health sciences major at Gettysburg, Voso has been able to pursue her interest in nursing — among many other endeavors. “I’m very appreciative of my Gettysburg experience, including all the friends I’ve made, helping the swim team win the Centennial Conference Championship, Midnight Madness, Thanksgiving Dinner, the Fall Concert, and all the help my professors have given me,” she said.
None of this would have been possible without the Mary Wartluft Scholarship. “Thanks to the generous support of that scholarship, the heavy financial burdens of paying for college have been eased.”
Keanna Voso ’14
You can help
Endowed Named Preferential Scholarship
Donor may name this scholarship and indicate eligible recipients such as students with a particular major or from a particular geographic location. The scholarship provides a perpetual source of aid for students and a permanent honor for the individual named in the fund.
Endowed Named General Scholarship
Donor may name this unrestricted scholarship, awarded on the basis of financial need. The scholarship provides a perpetual source of aid for students and a permanent honor for the individual named in the fund.
Gettysburg Fund Named Scholarship (non-endowed)
Donor may name this scholarship, which commits at least $10,000 to provide an annual gift of $2,500 or more over a four-year period.
Gettysburg Fund annual gifts for scholarships
Scholarships make the Gettysburg experience more affordable for students with unique talents, great intellect, diverse perspectives, and the desire to do great work in the world.
For more information
Development, Alumni and Parent Relations
For more information
Investing in your future (PDF)
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