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Lehigh to enhance financial aid policy

Building upon its current financial aid policy, Lehigh announced today a new initiative designed to further enhance the university’s approach to need-based financial aid.

“Lehigh has a deep and long-standing commitment to need-based financial aid and continually seeks new ways to provide access to a Lehigh education, regardless of income,” said Lehigh President Alice P. Gast. “We hope that these improvements, funded with an additional investment of nearly $3 million, reduce perceived barriers and send a strong message to prospective students and their families that a Lehigh education is an achievable goal regardless of their financial circumstances.”

The new policy will be in effect beginning in the 2008-09 academic year, encompasses new and current eligible undergraduates, and has four main components:

Loan Elimination Initiative—Loans will be eliminated for students who are eligible for financial aid, and whose family’s calculated annual income is less than $50,000.

Loan Reduction Initiative—For students who are eligible for financial aid, and whose family’s calculated annual income is between $50,000 and $75,000, loans will be limited to a maximum of $3,000 per year.

Increase in Work-Study Awards—Work-study awards for students who are included in the loan elimination and reduction initiatives will be increased by 25 percent to $2,200 per year, thus offsetting the need for loans.

Increased Aid for International Students—Additional funds are being made available to enroll a larger number of eligible, international students with demonstrated financial need.

Some facts about Lehigh’s current financial aid policy: more than 50 percent of current Lehigh students benefit from Lehigh’s financial aid policy; of those who receive aid, Lehigh meets 96 percent of their demonstrated need; financial need is reviewed annually to ensure that awards remain consistent with each student’s financial situation; financial aid is Lehigh’s second largest annual expense; and, with this announcement, the financial aid budget for undergraduate students for the coming academic year will exceed $54 million—the highest level ever.

“Lehigh has a long tradition of enrolling first-generation college students and offering them opportunities to succeed,” said J. Leon Washington, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. “This new initiative is a natural extension of this tradition. It also underscores our strong belief that by opening doors for students who may have perceived that a secondary education was beyond their reach, we not only help the students and their families, but in turn, we also enrich the Lehigh community and society as a whole.”

Beyond decreasing overall student indebtedness through the reduction and elimination of loans, Lehigh’s new initiative includes an enhancement to work-study awards.

“By increasing work-study awards, we aim to put more cash into a student’s hands to meet expenses that are not billed by the institution such as books and other personal expenses,” said Linda Bell, Director of Financial Aid. “Employment is readily available at Lehigh, so students have ample opportunity to earn their full awards. In addition, we find that work-study students generally perform very well compared to their non-working peers from an academic perspective because they learn to organize their time, accept responsibilities and interact regularly with adults who become mentors and role models.”

Furthermore, this new policy extends additional aid funds to international students with need. The university has set in motion an ambitious, multi–year plan to provide Lehigh students with more opportunities for international experiences in their education, and as part of that initiative, Lehigh is working to increase the number of international students on campus.

“These additional funds allow the university to offer more international students the opportunity to be part of the Lehigh family, expanding global horizons on campus,” said Washington.

--Dina Silver Pokedoff

Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2008

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