Northwestern University today announced plans to eliminate loans for incoming undergraduate students, boost other financial aid and provide scholarships to undocumented students who are graduates of U.S. high schools.

The changes, which also include increased financial assistance for graduate students and a limit on the amount of loans undergraduate students may have upon graduation, are already in place or will go into effect at the start of the 2016-17 school year, NU President Morton Schapiro said.

“Northwestern University has always sought to attract the best students in the world and provide them with the financial support needed to obtain a Northwestern education,” Schapiro said. “Our key priorities include enhancing existing financial aid and developing new programs that will enable even more students who are from low- and middle-income families and who are first-generation college students to attend Northwestern.”

A key part of the initiative is increased aid for undergraduate students. In the past five years, Northwestern has boosted financial aid for undergraduate students by 55 percent to approximately $160 million in 2016-17. The number of enrolled students eligible for federal Pell grants, which are available to students from low-income families, has increased to approximately15 percent of last fall’s entering first-year class.

“Our goal is to have 20 percent of the entering class be Pell-eligible by the year 2020,” President Schapiro said. “Northwestern is committed to increasing access for academically qualified students, regardless of their economic background.”

The funds for the additional financial assistance will come from gifts to the University, endowment earnings and other sources. A total of $147.2 million in scholarship funding already has been contributed to the University through We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern.

For U.S. undergraduate students, Northwestern is one of a relatively small number of colleges and universities that are “need-blind,” meaning it considers students for admission without taking into account their ability to pay. Northwestern also meets full need, meaning that after a student’s ability to pay is calculated, the University provides all the funds necessary to cover the costs above what the student’s family is able to pay.

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  1. Undocumented Students
    If Northwestern will “…provide scholarships to undocumented students who are graduates of U.S. high schools”, then it should be disqualified from receiving public funding. And I mean *any* public funding, anywhere, across the entire school.

    My spouse got in queue to immigrate legally into this country. This process took many years and thousands of dollars. And now we are just going to let people skip the line while indirectly receiving some sort of benefit? That is unfair to the many immigrants, now tax payers, who managed the difficult process of getting into the United States through the documented process and didn’t milk the system while doing so.

  2. They would do better cutting expenses
    The money for grants and financial support comes from “somewhere” even if from donors—whose money might be better spent elsewhere on education. Other sources are taxpayer money funneled through the state and federal money—which is again raised by taxes. Finally if all that fails, it comes from the other students [and also built into the tuition and room/board/fees of even the students who get the aid].
    High costs, even with promises like this, dissuade potential students from even thinking about applying—applying is not inexpensive in dollar terms, time, visiting campus, etc..
    Surely NU and other schools can cut high salaries of non-teaching staff [if not some of the teaching staff], administration which seems to grow like a fungus and self-create new ‘needs’, review the majors/minors/courses offered and focus on education, not more buildings [and replacing good buildings just because the new will be more ‘fancy’, sports complexes [just to have the latest and most fancy], etc..
    Because so many private schools have the same problems with “if it is new and more expensive, it must be ‘better’] NU holds many students hostage—if you want to stay in-state and get a top education you have NU, U.Chicago or UIUC–or of course go to another state but their private schools cost about the same as NU or pay out-of-state public school tuition.
    But of course it is easier and more profitable to offer grants that taxpayers fund, then look internally where the problems really are.

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