Nation’s First HBCU Offers Free Tuition, Tutoring to Low-Income Students

Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, was the nation’s first and is the nation’s oldest, private historically black college and university (HBCU).

Reported by Robert Stitt

It is a fully accredited liberal arts institution with 20 liberal arts concentrations, an Adult and Continuing Education program, and dual enrollment opportunities with the University of Dayton and St. John’s University Law School.

Founded in 1856, the university was a stop on the Underground Railroad, as proudly proclaimed on its website: “…the University was formed to provide an intellectual Mecca and refuge from slavery’s first rule: ignorance.”

Now, the institution is going one step beyond and seeking to break the barriers of poverty in education. Fox 45 notes that “fewer parents are saving for their kid’s college education. Right now, 1.2 trillion Americans are paying off college debt. The new Wilberforce Promise will fund nearly 100 low income students to keep their money in their wallets.”

The Wilberforce Promise, per the university’s web page, is “a promise to youth from low-income families that, if they are admitted to the University, and are eligible for the program, they will graduate with a baccalaureate degree debt-free. Students from all economic backgrounds are welcome at Wilberforce. Low-income students who are eligible for The Promise will not have to worry about how they will pay for college or that they will have to go into debt to attend. They can count on it.”

Under the terms of the program, first-time undergraduates who are enrolled full-time, are dependents, meet income low-income guidelines, and meet citizenship requirements will be eligible. The students would need to live on-campus and earn passing grades.

There is no application process. Students will be selected on a first come, first serve basis. Fox 45 reports that the new promise program will help about 100 students during the 2015-2016 school year. The school expects the program to grow.

Students who are selected for the program will receive “a combination of grants, scholarships, and/or work-study that meets 100 percent of their direct costs.” Direct costs include not only tuition, but “mandatory fees and allowances for housing and food.”

The school also promises to help students along their academic path. “In addition to workshops, programs, and activities, faculty and staff work individually with Promise Scholars as needed to ensure their academic success.”

Hopefully, more colleges and universities will take note of this incredible program and replicate it.

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