Pitt-Bradford will create a special endowment fund in honor of Dr. K. James Evans, vice president and dean of students, who is retiring in August 2018 after 42 years of service to the university.
The Dean Evans Legacy Fund is an endowment that will provide additional funds to promising students who run into unanticipated financial difficulties that can prevent them from returning the following semester.
According to Evans, “In my work with Pitt-Bradford students over the course of four plus decades, I have never seen the kinds of financial pressures come to bear on them that we have observed in the past few years. Nothing is more disappointing than having to watch a hard-working student drop out of college, simply because they can't come up with a modest sum to continue onto the next semester.”
Across the country, the rising cost of college and stagnant wages have put the squeeze on families. In recent years, changes in federal and state programs have made less money available for low-income students as well.
Dr. Livingston Alexander, president, said, “We enroll a significant number of students who come from low-income backgrounds or who are the first in their family to pursue a college education, and many of these students are having a difficult time covering expenses associated with college attendance.”
During the current semester, 58 students will end the year unable to make up their shortfall, said Dr. James Baldwin, vice president for enrollment management.
Melissa Ibanez, associate vice president of enrollment management and director of financial aid, gave an example of how one student still came up short.
After filling out financial aid forms, the government determined that her family, a single working mother with siblings at home, did not qualify to take out parent loans. The student received federal and campus-based grants, a donor scholarship and a merit scholarship. She took out subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans. The student's mother is making payments, but the student still has more than $1,000 to make up before she can register for the next semester.
Baldwin said that students from low-income families are eight times less likely than their peers are to earn a bachelor's degree. “Financial aid can play a huge role in narrowing that gap,” he said.
Students who do not qualify for need-based aid can also face a sizeable gap because what the federal government calculates as an expected family contribution can be beyond a family's realistic ability to pay.
For the past two years, Washington Monthly magazine has rated Pitt-Bradford among the best in the nation in helping low-income students succeed and graduate.
Earlier this fall, The Student Loan Report, an online source for student loan news, also ranked Pitt-Bradford highly for the support it gives students. Pitt-Bradford was 47th in the nation among public colleges for freshman financial aid. It was also 117th in the country among public colleges where undergraduates receive the most scholarship aid.
For more information or to contribute to the Dean Evans Legacy Fund, contact Jill Dunn, executive director of the Bradford Educational Foundation, at 814-362-5091 or firstname.lastname@example.org.