One local university says more money in a college scholarship means better opportunities for students in the Quad Cities. This week, Western Illinois University announced plans to add to a fund for high-achieving incoming students, starting next fall.
It's part of a scholarship program the school started in 2012. Incoming freshmen with a 3.0 GPA and at least a 20 ACT score are eligible to receive $8000 to $40,000. Andy Borst, director of admissions, says education needs more support in a tough economy.
"The people who are feeling it the most are low and middle-income families because they don't have as much as college savings--not because of choice or poor planning, but just because of the reality of their income relative to their expenses, so that's part of what we're trying to do with this program, is close that gap," he says.
College tuition continues to rise, but state and federal funding isn't. Borst says WIU believes freshmen have the most financial need, but the problem is people who donate to public universities don't usually give to first year students.
"They would rather invest in a junior or senior who has proven themselves in college already and maybe has a specific major, so finding general freshmen scholarships are very common at private universities, but almost unheard of at public universities," Borst says.
The scholarship increase will come from WIU's income fund and state grants.
Western Illinois University officials also hope to increase student enrollment from across the country, and is currently working to recruit more international students.