The Columns

Washington and Lee Unveils New Financial Aid Initiative

— by on October 14th, 2013

As part of its continuing strategic initiative to make a Washington and Lee University education affordable to all qualified students, the University is introducing the W&L Promise. It guarantees free tuition to any admitted undergraduate student who has a family income below $75,000. In addition, those students may be eligible for loan-free assistance to cover room, board and other educational expenses, based on demonstrated need.

At the same time, the University will continue to meet the demonstrated financial need for admitted students in other income brackets entirely through grants and work-study jobs, without asking students to take out loans.

In addition, W&L is now in the sixth year of its Johnson Scholarship, which provides full-tuition, room-and-board scholarships for up to 44 of the most exceptionally qualified students regardless of their family’s financial situation. That signature program has recently been expanded, with each Johnson Scholar now receiving financial support for summer opportunities such as internships, research or independent projects.

“Making the University more affordable has been a key element of our strategic plan for the past six years. To the extent that we have been successful in achieving elements of this plan, we are determined to do even more, and the W&L Promise addresses this important initiative,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio

Ruscio said the W&L Promise should encourage undergraduates for whom Washington and Lee would be a good fit to consider the University regardless of their finances.

“Not only has this effort to diversify our student body in socio-economic terms been a key tenet of our strategic plan, but we have also made need-based financial aid the largest goal of our current capital campaign,” said Ruscio, noting that the University set a target of $160 million for need-based financial aid in its $500 million campaign and has currently raised $132 million in gifts and commitments toward the financial aid goal. “The campaign explicitly cites our commitment to recruit and support students with exceptional personal and intellectual characteristics regardless of financial circumstances. We are expanding financial aid through a strategy of endowment rather than increased tuition for full-pay students.”

Another element in the University’s continuing efforts in this regard has been its successful partnership with QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that connects bright, motivated low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. Since partnering with QuestBridge in 2010, Washington and Lee has enrolled 105 students through the program.

In determining demonstrated need, Washington and Lee will continue its practice of undertaking a careful, personal assessment of each family’s income and assets with the assistance of the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE from the College Board.

Beginning in the fall of 2014, the W&L Promise will be available for both currently enrolled students and for members of the Class of 2018, who will enter then.

Washington and Lee Financial Aid Program