Southern Offering Renewable Freshmen Scholarships Starting in Fall

Southern Adventist University recently announced a major change in the way financial aid is awarded to students. Beginning in the fall of 2014, freshmen scholarships will be renewable at 100 percent for up to four years. The new policy is intended to help future students and their parents better plan for the financial aspects of coming to Southern.

There is a strong parallel between the fact that more and more Adventist youth are not attending the church’s colleges and universities, and that an increasing number of these same youth are leaving the denomination and rejecting Christ altogether. Southern is taking a significant step toward remedying that.

“Our new scholarship policy allows students and their families to be able to embrace Adventist education instead of feeling like their only option is the cheaper community college, even though they know there are many long-term downsides to that choice,” said Marc Grundy, vice president for Enrollment Services. “I strongly believe the most transformative time for students is their freshmen and sophomore years in college. That is when they absolutely need to be in a safe, Christ-focused environment and surrounded by like-minded believers.”

The renewable scholarships make investing in a traditional Adventist education from Southern more affordable than ever, even when compared with public colleges and universities. Students who maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA will be eligible for renewal, which is established at the end of each fall semester for the following school year. The news is already having an impact on parent and student interest.

“I learned about this important step during Southern’s financial seminar and open house on our campus this year,” said Rick Anderson, principal at Mount Pisgah Academy in North Carolina. “I was excited, and the parents were, too. You could literally hear the buzz in the room! More and more families are considering Southern because of these renewable scholarships.”

The monies required to finance this bold new outreach are coming from institutional funds, help from donors, and expected future revenue from the additional influx of students choosing Southern specifically because of this policy change and the peace of mind it affords. But future students won’t be the only ones benefiting from the university’s careful and prayerful financial work.

“We are planning to increase the level of need-based funds that we award to non-freshmen students starting next year since they committed to Southern before this policy was in place,” Grundy said.

In the midst of the current national dialogue about historically high student debt, Southern administrators have a desire to make Adventist education available to everyone. Although the university already budgets more than $10 million annually for financial aid and $5 million annually for student jobs on campus, something more needed to be done. So along with the renewable scholarships, Southern also recently voted that the tuition increase for 2014-2015 would be held to 2.4 percent, a figure below that of expected inflation and the smallest increase in more than 25 years.

“We’re doing everything within our power to keep Southern affordable while maintaining the high-quality experience our constituents have come to expect,” said Tom Verrill, senior vice president for Financial Administration.

A history of steady enrollment growth points to the fact that students and parents have long regarded Southern as a valuable spiritual and academic investment. The new scholarship policy makes that decision to commit to Adventist education all the easier.

“Southern has always been the first choice for the vast majority of our students at Mount Pisgah Academy,” Anderson said. “The renewable scholarships have reinforced in the minds of our staff and students that Southern is dedicated to providing an Adventist education for everyone.” 

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