Warren Wilson College announces two free tuition programs

ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION: Wilson College is located in the Swannanoa Valley, near Asheville. Photo by Reggie Tidwell.

Press release from Warren Wilson College:

Asheville, N.C. — When Lynn Morton delivered her first speech as president of Warren Wilson College, she made a prediction: “We will support our community as it supports us.” Her vision is now a reality with the launch of two historic initiatives designed to give incoming students the chance to attend Warren Wilson College tuition-free.

“Beginning with the fall 2018 incoming class, we will launch the Warren Wilson College NC Free Tuition Plan, a program that guarantees every North Carolina undergraduate student who is eligible for federal or state need-based aid can attend Warren Wilson tuition-free,” Morton said. “Simultaneously, we are introducing Milepost One, a program that will award full-tuition scholarships to 25 incoming students whose family income levels are equal to or below $125,000 per year, expanding access to our out-of-state and middle-income families.”

Janelle Holmboe, Warren Wilson College’s vice president for enrollment and marketing, believes the NC Free Tuition Plan will further diversify the campus population.

“Since I arrived in 2015, there’s been an opportunity for Warren Wilson College to expand its presence in North Carolina,” Holmboe said. “North Carolina is an incredibly diverse state, and I believe this initiative opens opportunities for our local students to attend Warren Wilson College.”

Morton worked alongside the Office of Admission to design programs that were grounded in the college’s founding. For 123 years, the Swannanoa Valley campus has stood for educational access through a model that encourages work in exchange for part of tuition. Since her announcement as president, Morton has zeroed in on this history, hoping the college could one day return to its roots.

“Our history of providing education to students in this region compels us to focus a tuition plan specifically for students in North Carolina,” Morton added.

While the NC Free Tuition Plan depends upon North Carolina residency for qualification, Milepost One eliminates geographic restrictions and takes educational access beyond the historical precedent. Milepost One is a competitive, full-tuition scholarship for students and families that may not be eligible for federal or state need-based grants. These families have too much income to qualify for Pell and other low-income grant programs, but not enough income to comfortably pay for college.

Holmboe explained the unique, family-focused application process for Milepost One.

“We call it Milepost One in reference to the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a beginning. We know there are people whose hard work and commitment have made it possible for students to be at the point in their lives where they’re going to college. In a two-minute video, we’re asking applicants to tell us how these people – maybe mom, dad, a coach, a grandparent, teacher, pastor, sibling or friend — impacted them, and what would it mean to both of them to receive a full-tuition scholarship to Warren Wilson College.”

Additionally, Holmboe said her division was using the launch of these new programs to do even more. Effective immediately, the undergraduate application fee is being eliminated for all students.

“This is yet another example of our commitment to educational access,” Holmboe explained.

These new programs make sense for Warren Wilson College, and national data adds more support to the approach.

Earlier this year, Royall & Co. reported: “Cost is the No. 1 reason why students forgo their top-pick schools.” But this isn’t the first indication that cost was becoming a larger barrier to college enrollment. In 2013, USA Today outlined a Discover Student Loans survey that “found that nearly half of adults are limiting their child’s college choices based on price.” Last year, the University of California at Los Angeles’ “The American Freshman” report revealed more than half of the 137,456 first-time students surveyed had “some” or “major” concerns “about their ability to finance college.”

To be eligible for the Warren Wilson College NC Free Tuition Plan, applicants must submit proof of their North Carolina residency and qualify for federal or state need-based grants through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Accepted students will receive the remainder of their tuition free through scholarships, need-based grants and Warren Wilson College’s unique work-grant.

In addition to the two-minute video, applicants considered for the Milepost One program must have completed a FAFSA and have a minimum 3.0 weighted high school GPA. Morton noted that while undocumented students are not eligible for state and federal aid, they are eligible for Milepost One and other college aid programs.

“In several public venues, I have talked about providing access to education, particularly access to the high-quality, integrated experience that Warren Wilson offers,” Morton wrote in a letter to college community members. “Please join me in celebrating these programs, where we will grow closer to our ideals by providing access to Wilson regardless of socio-economic background.”

For more information, contact the Warren Wilson College Office of Admissions at admit@warren-wilson.edu or visit https://warren-wilson.edu/admission/tuition-and-aid.

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