WILMINGTON — Wilmington College is anticipating what could be its largest enrollment of incoming freshmen from Clinton County ever when the fall semester starts in August.
What promises to be an extraordinarily large group of incoming freshmen at WC includes some four-dozen from the county.
Many of them are taking advantage of attaining a quality, local education with assistance from the college’s unique Clinton County SUCCEEDS program, which features a loan-to-grant award of up to $10,000 for local residents.
Dennis Kelly, vice president/chief enrollment officer, said recent changes “make what has been a great opportunity for our local students even greater.”
Clinton County SUCCEEDS is now more inclusive, offers loan-to-grant opportunities also to freshmen and sophomores, and the college has waived the requirement that WC graduates must live or work in Clinton County for two years in order to receive their full grants.
“We feel this is an especially favorable time to attend Wilmington College with its new academic programs, expanding opportunities in athletics, the recent opening of major campus facilities, ever-increasing hands-on learning opportunities and more on the near horizon,” Kelly added.
“The college understands how important it is for students to receive both an affordable education and a memorable, meaningful experience that leads to good jobs and successful career paths,” he said.
Effective for this fall, the program has been expanded from the initial Wilmington SUCCEEDS test program begun in 2014 involving only Wilmington High School graduates. Eligible students also now include May 2018 high school graduates from Blanchester, Clinton-Massie and East Clinton, and Wilmington Christian Academy. In addition, it’s open to graduates who are Clinton County residents who were home-schooled or attended schools outside the county, and non-residents who attended Clinton County schools.
The loan-to-grant program includes $2,000 in annual loans issued for students’ freshmen and sophomore years, and $3,000 in annual loans for their junior and senior years. Upon their graduation from Wilmington College, the students’ loan amount of as much as $10,000 will be completely forgiven.
Kelly mentioned the loans-to-grants available through Clinton County SUCCEEDS are determined by students’ financial need, rather than academically based. Also, in many cases, they can be combined with other grants, scholarships and institutional financial aid.
Students earning a two-year degree at Southern State Community College are eligible to receive the $3,000 loan-to-grant for each of their final two years upon transferring to WC.
In previous years, Wilmington High School graduates in the program had 75 percent of their loan forgiven upon their WC graduation. However, they were required to live or work in Clinton County for at least two years in order to secure the remaining 25 percent, as much as $2,500.
WC graduates involved with the former Wilmington SUCCEEDS program have received letters announcing the new policy as retroactive — thereby forgiving the balance of their loans and opening up additional employment and education options.
Kelly noted the intention of the original residency requirement was to prevent “brain-drain” from the county, but the college realized that measure was limiting graduates’ reach to pursue good employment opportunities in their fields of interest, military service or additional academic degrees.
While figures won’t become official until after school starts Aug. 20, this fall’s enrollment of new students from Clinton County may be the largest ever, certainly eclipsing numbers from the past few decades. The college also stands to break its all-time record of 383 freshmen, which goes back to 1946 and the massive influx of students following World War II. WC tied that figure four years ago, in addition to breaking the record for new students — freshmen and transfers — with 437 in 2014.
A preponderance of the Clinton County students will be commuting to campus, saving as much as $40,000 over four years in room and board costs. Kelly noted that funds saved could be used for enhancing their college experience through such “educational extras” as study trips in the United States and overseas travel opportunities, or even a commuter meal plan or the experience of residing on campus at some point in their college career.
“At Wilmington College, we feel we can bring the world to you,” Kelly added, noting there’s still a limited time for additional local students to apply for Clinton County SUCCEEDS and “be part of a record-breaking class.”
Questions about Clinton County SUCCEEDS can be directed to WC’s Sonia Thompson, assistant director of Student One Stop at 937-481-2353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.