Good Neighbor, Great University initiative grows

Peter Kotecki, Assistant Campus Editor

The Good Neighbor, Great University initiative awarded 327 students scholarships averaging $8,778 each this year, the highest amount ever given by the program, according to University enrollment data.

The scholarships go to students who graduated from Evanston and Chicago high schools. Only incoming freshmen can apply, but the scholarship is renewable each year for students who maintain satisfactory academic progress.

This year’s Good Neighbor, Great University scholarships represent a total of $2,870,300, up from $2,606,887 last academic year, when 302 students received an average of $8,632 each. When the program began in Fall 2011, the scholarship program gave an average of $7,546 to each of 101 students, totaling $762,168 in aid, according to University enrollment data.

Graphic by Benjamin Din/Daily Senior Staffer

“It was conceived as a way to pay tribute to the people and the neighborhoods where Northwestern’s campuses are,” said Michael Mills, associate provost for university enrollment.

In addition to demonstrating financial need, students must have a self-help component — which includes a work-study job, a summer earnings requirement and loans — in their financial aid package to be eligible for the scholarship. The scholarship is intended to replace the self-help component, Mills said.

NU has tried to increase its outreach to students in Chicago Public Schools, Mills said. The University’s goal is to enroll more than 100 CPS students in a freshman class, and Mills said this year’s entering class had about 83 CPS students.

The number of scholarship recipients has gone up due to better recruitment and more generous financial aid, Mills said.

About one third of this year’s Good Neighbor, Great University scholarship recipients are also Federal Pell Grant recipients, which Mills said is the most commonly used measure of low-income students at universities.

The University is intentionally trying to lower the out-of-pocket cost for students with financial need, Mills said. Fall Quarter 2015 was the first time that NU offered aid packages without any student loan requirements for all of the University’s Federal Pell Grant recipients, an initiative he expects to continue, he said.

In addition to the scholarships it provides, the Good Neighbor, Great University program also includes Northwestern Academy, a program begun by the School of Education and Social Policy that aims to help CPS students prepare for college, Mills said.

“It’s intended to go after the kids who just missed qualifying for one of the selective admission high schools in Chicago,” he said. “The goal is to get more of these kids not just to come to Northwestern but just to go to college anywhere.”

Northwestern Academy recruits CPS students who are in ninth grade, are not attending selective enrollment high schools and are from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, said Cassandra Geiger, the academy’s director.

“We are looking for students who demonstrate an aptitude for strong, long term academic performance, motivation and willingness to engage in learning experiences outside of school,” Geiger said.

Following Northwestern Academy’s creation in 2013, about 80 high school students were admitted, Geiger said, 68 of whom remain in the academy this year as juniors. She said there are currently 61 students from the second application cycle at the academy.

“This year, we are in our new recruiting season, and we are looking to again take about 80 students,” Geiger said.

She said students begin attending the academy in the summer between their freshman and sophomore years. All students receive programming in personal enrichment, cultural and civic engagement and leadership development, Geiger said. The academy also works with students and their families to discuss the college admissions process.

“We start that right away, in their sophomore year, so that they have an understanding of the landscape of higher education,” Geiger said. “And then we support them through that college process in their junior and senior years when they’re applying.”

Geiger said being a part of the program is no guarantee that students will get into NU. She added that some students would be great fits at NU, but the oldest members of the program have not applied to college yet.

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