Mary Baldwin Creates New Grant

Mary Baldwin University has launched a new initiative that will make college tuition more affordable for new, incoming students with the greatest financial need. 

For months the university has followed the national debate about Pell Grant funding, and believes a significant funding increase would make a profound difference to the student population it serves. Though congress passed only a modest increase, MBU administrators are aware the need still exists. And they’re taking action to fill the gap.   

Starting in the fall of 2022 MBU’s Pell+ Promise grant will award an additional $3,000 a year to all new full-time residential students who qualify for the federal Pell Grant. Pell eligibility is based on family income, and the grant usually applies for families that make less than $60,000 annually. Plans are in the works for bringing added support to new full-time online students as well. 

MBU isn’t the only university in the United States to offer this kind of grant, but its elimination of common barriers for low-income students is unique. For instance, the aid has no GPA or in-state residency requirements. Extra paperwork is avoided by simply awarding it to all new residential students that meet the income requirements. And renewal is automatic.    

Mary Baldwin Vice President for Enrollment Management Matt Munsey calls that incredibly important. He cites findings from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior that show low-income first-generation students are about 70 percent less likely to pursue a college degree than their non-first-generation counterparts, and 60 percent less likely to earn a degree after matriculation.

“We see this as the latest evolution in our ongoing commitment to make earning a college degree more accessible and affordable for everyone,” said Munsey, who worked closely with other university administrators to secure internal funding for the grant. 

And that commitment is recognized as one of the greatest among U.S. universities. U.S. News and World Report ranked MBU in the the top 25 of its 2019 list of Top Performers on Social Mobility” nationwide. Stats like the number of disadvantaged students institutions graduate, and with how much debt, were used to determine rankings. 

“The [Pell+ Promise] absolutely supercharges our ability to reach and assist the most vulnerable demographic of learners in the country,” said Munsey. “I am both thrilled and proud to announce this new program. Moving forward we hope this can allow students with the most profound need to graduate with virtually zero tuition-related debt. ”