May 11, 2009
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
University responds to tough economic times -
SRU launches need-based Rock Opportunity Scholarship
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has established a Rock Opportunity Scholarship to provide need-based assistance to in-state students facing financial hardship because of the current economy. The University and Slippery Rock University Foundation Inc. have committed $250,000 to the program and will provide $1,000 to $1,250 a year to more than 200 undergraduates.
"Family members are telling us regularly that they have lost jobs, their hours have been cut and that they are facing extenuating circumstances," said Patty Hladio, SRU director of financial aid. "If these scholarships keep students in school and helps them get a degree, the students are being prepared for better financial stability when they get out of school."
"It is very gratifying, rewarding and uplifting to know that our institution is trying to make a dent in the hardship," she added.
SRU will notify 3,000 students this week about the scholarship and has created an online form for them to submit to be considered. Scholarships will be awarded to freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors based on family income guidelines established by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as academic performance, Hladio said.
Scholarships will be renewable based on achieving normal academic progress as defined by federal standards, income eligibility and availability of funding. She said the program would assist 250 students in the first year and reach 1,000 students in the first four years.
Hladio said assistance would be granted after federal and state grant aid programs have been credited to a student's account and prior to the family's contribution and loans. Every effort will be made to award scholarships proportionally by class year.
A college education is considered a major key to achieving economic success. SRU wants to provide opportunities and prepare graduates for the global job market, especially amid the challenges of the economy, said Amanda Yale, SRU associate provost for enrollment services.
"The scholarship is the University's action to relieve some of the college costs for eligible students and their families who are experiencing financial hardship tied directly to our current economy," Yale said. "That is what this scholarship is developed around."
Yale said she spoke last week to a student who works part time and sends her money home because her mother and father were recently laid off. "Those are the painful experiences," Yale said. "We listen to a lot of those. This is the institution's response to try to do what we can to try to help out."
The scholarship program targets students from low- and middle-income families. Families with a total income of $60,000-$70,000 may only receive $1,500 in government grants, Hladio said.
"Middle-income families are oftentimes struggling more because federal grants drop out of the picture, and the state grants are minimal," she said. "When we created our program, we were addressing the broad spectrum of families."
SRU's strategic plan affirms that providing affordable higher education is a public responsibility. The total cost for an in-state student at SRU is estimated to be $15,400 for 2009-10, Hladio said.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their live.