College admissions is a cyclical business and spring is financial aid “season”. Articles and news stories about student debt, the skyrocketing cost of higher education, budget constraints, and even institutions closing will flood the media channels as families anxiously await the arrival of financial aid letters from colleges where their children have been accepted. These letters will give families the bottom-line cost of what an education at a specific college will be for the 2015-16 academic year. For many families, the conversation around the dinner table will be a difficult one as each offer is weighed and pros and cons are considered. A top choice college may have to slide to the bottom of the list due to financial considerations, but there is something positive that can be taken away from what arguably can be a quite stressful experience.
For many years, Academy students have been diligently and efficiently going to work as full-time students. Putting in countless hours of dedication in the classroom, on the athletic field and the stage, volunteering in the community, practicing instruments, etc. This is the moment when each student and the Academy community as a whole sees the tangible results of that hard work — those late nights and early mornings and weekends, too. In early February, graduating seniors of the Class of 2015 saw their reward for their education when, as a group, they reached and exceeded the $1 million mark in merit scholarships received. In total, the Class of 2015 has applied to nearly 150 colleges and universities, and the $1 million figure currently represents just one-third of the graduating seniors. It is exciting to see so many colleges rewarding our students for their hard work and recognizing the value of an Academy education.
For now, the $1 million figure only includes monies clearly referred to as merit aid by the issuing institution. As April approaches, more admission decisions will be made and financial aid packages received. Those financial aid packages will include all aspects of aid being awarded such as scholarships, grants, and loans. The $1 million in merit aid is the tip of the financial aid iceberg for our students. The total for merit-based awards and grants will continue to climb as our seniors are recognized for the value they will bring to the Class of 2019 at each of their institutions.
Just as the weather is warming up, so are the seniors in this financial aid “season” and only time will tell how high they will climb.