WATERVILLE, Maine--(BUSINESS WIRE)--To continue its commitment to identifying and supporting talented students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, Colby College announced it has expanded its financial aid policy so families with a total household income of $65,000 and typical assets will now have a parent or guardian contribution of $0. The policy, which will be available for all entering and current Colby students beginning next academic year, is made possible through a significant gift from Michael E. Koester ’94 and his wife, André R. Koester.
This new policy, which increases the household income threshold from $60,000 to $65,000, further positions the College’s financial aid as among the most competitive in the country. This important expansion is also especially relevant and necessary given that the current U.S. median household income is slightly above $63,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Colby is one of only a handful of highly selective schools to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need without loans – providing students the opportunity to graduate without student loan debt. Additionally, through the Fair Shot Fund families earning up to $150,000 with typical assets can expect an annual parent or guardian contribution of $15,000 or less.
The College’s financial aid policies are the foundation of the Colby Commitment, a comprehensive college-wide initiative aimed at reducing barriers for extraordinary students from all backgrounds. This means covering not just tuition costs but also room and board and participation in Colby’s DavisConnects program, which guarantees access to global experiences as well as significant research and internship opportunities for all students, regardless of their financial or personal circumstances.
“Colby is committed to leveling the playing field for talented, hard-working students of all backgrounds who want to attend a top liberal arts college,” commented Colby President David A. Greene P’20. “We’ve made great strides in this effort but there’s much more to do. The good news is that with the ongoing support of wonderful donors like Mike and André Koester, we’ll continue to attract and educate the best and brightest students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.”
President Greene noted that Colby’s investments in financial aid are making a dramatic difference in the College’s ability to enroll high-achieving students from lower- and middle-income backgrounds. In this year’s first-year class, 18 percent were eligible for Pell Grants (a means-tested federal aid program) compared to only 9 percent in 2014, and 46 percent of Colby students now receive financial aid, compared to 38 percent five years ago.
Colby has also gone to great lengths to make the process for financial aid easy and understandable. “These straightforward financial aid policies allow us to communicate to high-achieving students and their families that cost does not need to be a barrier or a deciding factor for attending Colby,” said Matt Proto, vice president for enrollment and communications and dean of admissions and financial aid at Colby College. “The reality is that the higher education sector has not done an adequate job communicating about financial aid, and that’s resulted in language that can be very confusing. Our hope is that by simplifying our language parents and guardians will have a better understanding of what they will be expected to contribute toward their student’s college education.”
As part of its focus to recruit and enroll exceptional students regardless of their financial circumstances, Colby College has partnered with various organizations that aim to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation’s best colleges and universities. These include the American Talent Initiative, QuestBridge, the Posse Foundation, and many other community-based organizations.
By working with these organizations, Colby has become a launch pad for more students who have the potential to make a tremendous impact on the world. “By being able to attend Colby, students from all socioeconomic backgrounds are well positioned to be change-makers in whatever path they follow,” commented Proto.
The College’s ability to expand its financial aid programs is largely due to its Dare Northward campaign, the largest fundraising initiative in liberal arts college history. With a $750-million goal, the campaign recently reached a key milestone, $500 million raised, driven by contributions from more than 20,000 donors.