As Holy Cross continues to see record application numbers, interim provost Michael Griffin said the College is turning toward trusted partners to foster student excellence.
Griffin identified the two networks through which the College will offer more scholarships this year: dependents of Notre Dame employees and families who participate in the SAGE scholars rewards program.
Half a decade ago, under former College President Fr. David Tyson, Holy Cross began covering the full cost of tuition and fees for those eligible for Notre Dame’s tuition benefit, Griffin said.
“Covering full tuition for Notre Dame employee children was one of the first things [Tyson] did to strengthen Holy Cross’ bond with Notre Dame,” Griffin said.
Starting this year, Griffin said, Holy Cross College is providing room and board costs for Notre Dame employee children who maintain a certain high school grade point average (GPA).
“Children of those whose parents qualify for the tuition benefit don’t pay anything for tuition and fees. That already exists,” Griffin clarified. “What is new is that for students whose high school GPA is 3.4 or above, we will also cover their housing if they choose to live on campus.”
Griffin said the grant, named the Hesburgh Housing Scholarship, is a recognition of the special relationship found among the tri-campus.
“Fr. Hesburgh was a very good friend of Holy Cross College and always was keen to point families who were interested in a Catholic education to come to the tri-campus,” Griffin said.
The financial source of the housing voucher, Griffin said, is a fund started in Fr. Hesburgh’s name.
“We have a Hesburgh Fund that some friends of Fr. Hesburgh began while he was still alive and that people still donate to,” Griffin said. “That is something that people can donate to kind of honor Father Hesburgh and the role he played at Holy Cross.”
Griffin expects the scholarship to benefit the academic performance of students from Notre Dame employee families, especially first-generation students.
“What we are finding is that living on campus is a real benefit to academic performance, and we want to make that possible,” Griffin said. “The research is clear that for first-gen students, it is a marked difference. It is a marked increase in academic success when they live on campus.”
Director of financial aid Rick Gonsiorek added that the scholarship’s underlying intent is to strengthen the College’s community.
“[The scholarship] removes a financial barrier from students to fully enter into that campus life,” Gonsiorek said. “Holy Cross College wants to offer as holistic an educational experience as possible.”
Though the range of people who qualify for the scholarship is wide, the housing grant will only affect a small percentage of Holy Cross College’s population, Gonsiorek said.
“The total number of Notre Dame dependents going to school here is a little bit less than 20,” Gonsiorek said. “As the word gets out, I expect to see more Notre Dame families take advantage of this incredible opportunity.”
Holy Cross College will also begin offering scholarships this year through the SAGE Scholars FastTrak pre-admission program, Griffin said.
“[SAGE] is a program that is run through employers where families and students can accumulate points by taking steps towards wellness, college readiness [or even] community service,” Griffin said. “We add scholarships to their sage reward points,” he said.
Gonsiorek equates FastTrak to “speed dating.” He said the program flips the whole admissions process around.
“This FastTrak Program is a new program that allows the colleges to reach directly out to the students and identify them on a number of admissible characteristics,” Gonsiorek said. “It’s like a private college search network.”
Gonsiorek said FastTrak is particularly useful for finding students who might otherwise think they would not be able to afford college.
“There’s a whole large group of students out there who are intimidated by the college admissions process,” Gonsiorek said. “They’re first-generation students. They’re scared to even apply to schools let alone a private school. It’s such a large price tag.”
Through SAGE FastTrak, Holy Cross can offer pre-admission and relay guaranteed scholarship packages to prospective students whom the College believes would be a good fit on campus, Gonsiorek said.
“What we also are finding is that, when we identify pockets of really trusted partners like Notre Dame, like SAGE, by giving scholarships, more of them, one of the things is we get is more of the kinds of students who thrive at Holy Cross,” Griffin said. “That’s the win. We continue to increase our student excellence.”
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