Photo of Alice G. Chapman Hall, where the Admissions office is located. Photo by Rongyan Song.
Lawrence University recently announced its new financial aid program, the Lawrence Advantage. According to the Lawrence University website, this program aims to meet the institutional needs of incoming students from Wisconsin and Illinois starting for incoming freshman of 2023.
Ryan Gebler, Director of Financial Aid, stated that this program is something Lawrence has been doing for many students over many years, but this will be much more visible to the public by highlighting Lawrence’s financial aid. Gebler said many students already have their financial need met.
Gebler stressed that the word “need” has a very specific meaning in terms of financial aid. A student’s “need,” he said, is calculated by the difference between the cost of attendance and the Student Aid Index.
The cost of attendance is not only things you are billed for such as tuition, room and board, but also other expenses such as books, personal care items and travel between home and campus. When students apply for financial aid, Gebler said, the financial aid office uses a formula to calculate a realistic amount a family can pay for the school year; they call this the Student Aid index. The difference in the cost of attendance and the Student Aid index is the amount of “need” for a student, said Gebler, and this “need” is what the Lawrence Advantage will cover for students.
According to the Lawrence website, a student’s need will usually be met by 90 to 95%. The Lawrence Advantage will fill this extra 5 to 10% percent through a supplemental grant.
“I think this message—that if you have financial need [Lawrence is] going to meet it — will help those bright and best students give strong consideration to Lawrence,” said Gebler.
This sentiment was also echoed by President Laurie Carter who said additional debt can be a critical difference when choosing schools. She also stated that the Lawrence Advantage is just one of many programs for financial support.
Financial support for Lawrence students has been and continues to be a priority, said Carter. She said since January 2014, donors have given over 95 million dollars to support Lawrence’s initiative to become a full-need institution.
At this time, Carter said the university is not looking into adding more states to the Lawrence Advantage until it is fully launched. Both Carter and Gebler said that Wisconsin and Illinois are part of the Lawrence Advantage because they are the top representing states for incoming first-years.
This program will not benefit current students’ financial aid, but Gebler stated that they hope students will come to the financial aid office if their financial situation changes and tuition becomes a burden.