Lawrence University recently announced its new financial aid program, the Lawrence Advantage. According to the Lawrence University website, this program aims to meet the institutional needs of incoming students from Wisconsin and Illinois beginning with the incoming freshman year of 2023.
Ryan Gebler, director of financial aid, said this program is something Lawrence has been doing for many years for many students, but it will be much more visible to the public by highlighting Lawrence’s financial aid. Gebler said many students have already met their financial needs.
Gebler pointed out that the word “need” has a very specific meaning in terms of financial aid. A student’s “need,” he says, is calculated by the difference between the cost of attendance and the Student Aid Index.
The cost of participation not only includes tuition, accommodation, and meals, but also other expenses such as books, personal care items, and home-to-campus travel. When students apply for financial aid, Gebler said, the financial aid office uses a formula to calculate a realistic amount a family can pay for the school year; they call it the Student Aid Index. The difference between the cost of attendance and the Student Aid Index is the amount of a student’s “need,” Gebler said, and that “need” is what the Lawrence benefit will cover for students.
According to Lawrence’s website, a student’s needs will typically be 90-95% met. The Lawrence Advantage will fill that extra 5-10% with an additional grant.
“I think this message – that if you have financial needs [Lawrence is] going to meet him – will help those bright, better students to pay great attention to Lawrence,” Gebler said.
This sentiment was also echoed by President Laurie Carter, who said additional debt can be a crucial difference when choosing schools. She also said Lawrence Advantage is just one of many financial support programs.
Financial support for Lawrence students has been and continues to be a priority, Carter said. She said that since January 2014, donors have given more than $95 million to support Lawrence’s initiative to become a full-needs institution.
At this time, Carter said the university has no plans to add more states to Lawrence Advantage before its full launch. Both Carter and Gebler said Wisconsin and Illinois are part of the Lawrence advantage because they are the top states representing incoming first years.
This program will not benefit financial aid for current students, but Gebler said they hope students will come to the financial aid office if their financial situation changes and tuition becomes a burden.