Union College and Schuler Education Foundation pledge to enroll low-income students

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SCHENECTADY – Union College receives a significant boost in its ability to enroll low income students.

The 226-year-old liberal arts school has partnered with the Schuler Education Foundation to invest up to $ 40 million to enroll more low-income students, the college said on Tuesday.

Union College is among the first five schools selected to participate in the Schuler Access Initiative, which aims to enroll more underserved students in the country’s top liberal arts colleges.

Jack Schuler, co-founder of the Schuler Education Foundation, will spend $ 500 million over the next 10 years on the initiative. He wants to include up to 20 liberal arts schools that will match the funds, for a potential investment of $ 1 billion.

Union College plans to raise $ 20 million over the next five years, which, along with Schuler’s game, will provide the college with $ 40 million in scholarships to recruit and enroll underserved students.

According to college president David Harris, the incoming class of Union College, which has about 570 students, includes about 75 people who receive federal needs-based Pell Grants awarded to low-income undergraduates. Most Pell scholarships are awarded to students with a total annual family income of less than $ 20,000.

The partnership with the Schuler Education Foundation will allow the school to add about 10 Pell Grant students each year in perpetuity, as the money goes into an endowment, Harris said.

“I’m very excited about this,” he said.

Starting in the 2022-2023 school year, the Schuler Grants will allow the college to add nine Pell-eligible students during each of the first two years of the 10-year project. The number of additional students will increase to 10 in the following years.

When asked why it was important for Union to enroll low-income students, Harris said: “I am biased. I thinks the Union is just a phenomenal institution. I think the options we provide in this smaller, more intimate setting with professors who are university teachers and strongly engaged with the students – it’s just amazing what we allow the students to do. And I just can’t stand the idea that it would be fair to the children who were lucky enough to be born rich.

“And so it has to be for the kids who have done whatever they need to do to be able to thrive in a place like Union, and this partnership with Schuler brings us closer to that, where we can just bring in the kids who were is really going to be better prepared for this, instead of having to say, at some point, ‘You’re amazing, but I’m sorry we’re out of money, so we can’t accept you.’ “

Harris, who grew up in Philadelphia, was a low income first generation student. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University in Illinois.

“I recently unearthed documents that showed my parents’ annual income was comparable to the cost of Northwestern; it was about $ 16,000 a year, ”Harris said.

“My parents had no savings, and there was no way I would go to college, certainly not this college, without a ton of financial aid and the Pell scholarship was one of them.

The other schools chosen to date for partnership with the foundation are Bates College, Carleton College, Kenyon College and Tufts Universite.

“A liberal arts education is unique to the United States and has proven to be a great foundation for success in postgraduate studies,” Schuler said. “You become a citizen of the world with a liberal arts training. You become a better doctor, lawyer or engineer with the basics of liberal arts training.

Harris said the partnership with Schuler highlights how families should focus less on the annual cost of Union College’s $ 76,000.

“This shows, once again, that it’s really important to think about what it really costs people and not just the price of the sticker… Coming to Union, it’s probably going to be cheaper than going to an institution public, even if the price of the sticker is much higher.

The goals of the Schuler initiative align with a priority in the college’s strategic plan to ensure that students from all economic backgrounds can access and take full advantage of the opportunities offered by Union.

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