We all remember the stress of choosing which college to attend. You want to choose a school that is the perfect fit for you in all aspects – socially, academically and financially. For many of us, the most daunting part of choosing a school is seeing the cost of tuition. For this reason, many people attend state schools to save on tuition, whether they love the school or not. There are ongoing jokes about being a broke college student, which are accurate and something unavoidable, whether you choose to attend a public college or a private one.
To put the dilemma of college costs into perspective, Americans are more in debt with student loans than with credit cards. 71% of graduating college students have some sort of student loan debt. It is very intimidating, but don’t fear! It’s not as scary as it sounds. I know from personal experience.
I stressed a tremendous amount over how I was going to manage paying for my tuition. I fell in love with Gannon University and it was my number one choice, but I was skeptical that I would be able to afford a private school. Fortunately, with the help of Gannon’s scholarship program, I am a student here and loving every bit of it. Many people choose their dream school, regardless of the cost, only to find themselves in a financial bind and having to transfer to a cheaper school.
Gannon is unique among its fellow private academic institutions. To start, the cost of tuition at Gannon is under the national average for tuition cost among private colleges. But it’s more than just billing less than others private colleges. Gannon is generous with its institutional scholarships. Of everyone I know on campus, each person has some sort of scholarship or financial aid from Gannon.
The impressive situation with Gannon’s scholarship program allows prospective students to choose the school they want without having to compromise due to cost. Abby Zupan, freshman Communication Arts major, stated, “I would say we [Gannon] give[s] a lot. Compared to other schools, we definitely give more, especially with being a private school.” Zupan mentioned that if she had not received any scholarship awards from Gannon, she would have had to attend a different school.
Students must also keep in mind that reward money stated from other colleges may not all be scholarship money. Sharon Krahe, Director of Financial Aid, explains, “Their cost could be higher. They could tack on loans that have to be repaid.”
“You want to take your cost minus your aid to get to the bottom line. Just because it looks like they’re offering you more doesn’t mean they’re offering you more,” stated Mary Pol, Assistant Director of Financial Aid.
Students are offered scholarship money when they are accepted to the university. These freshman scholarships are often kept through the undergraduate phase. There are academic and merit scholarships, diocesan-related scholarships, academic competition scholarships (based on student performance on exams, specific to subject), athletic scholarships, ROTC scholarships, Schuster music and arts scholarships and multiple more. Most of these are awarded to incoming freshman, but there is a plethora of options as you become a sophomore and beyond. There are even scholarship opportunities specific to transferring students.
Pol said, “We want to stress to returning and continuing students that there are scholarship opportunities, such as for the Student Government Association and The Gannon Knight. The aid that they get from us usually sticks with them and they always come into other opportunities. And we always want everyone to keep looking for outside scholarships.”
Gannon has made various adjustments with a changing economy and increasing costs for education in recent years.
“There’s always been financial aid. But the last few years with the economy, the Board of Directors has approved a good increase. We are able to offer more to students across the board. We’ve always had packages and scholarships, it’s just been beefed up recently,” stated Krahe.
One of the innovations Gannon has made includes the Full Tuition Scholarship Competition. Each year, students who qualify academically are offered the chance to compete in January of their senior year of high school for a full tuition scholarship. This year’s was the 5th Annual Full Tuition Scholarship Competition.
Pol states, “What we do here in this competition is kind of a fun thing and also kind of an inspiring thing, because we get to see how awesome kids are.”
“Other schools are just based on a test score with a GPA component, where we have that other component with a presentation,” Krahe said. Invited students give a presentation to a Board of Judges, followed by an interview. The topic for the presentation may vary, but last year it was to display creatively where you saw yourself in the future and what your aspirations were.
Gannon University may be a private school and a high sticker price, but it’s rather uncommon for anyone to pay what is listed. With the help of Gannon’s scholarship funding, students can attend the school they want without paying as much as they would at other private institutions.