Need and non-need based financial aid

Dennis Kelly - Contributing columnist

I learned through a colleague at Wilmington College that an employee at one of the Clinton County schools was discouraged to see so many local high school graduates receiving up to $10,000 in forgivable loans through WC’s Clinton County Succeeds program.

That individual apparently feels the awards should be competitive and the College is simply attempting to sway local students to enroll at WC. I am grateful to hear this opinion, as it gives me another opportunity to educate everyone on Clinton County Succeeds.

First of all, I am 100 percent in agreement that making a Wilmington College education more affordable with up to $10,000 in loan-to-grant funds attempts to enroll more students at WC. These funds, in addition to other financial aid for which they likely qualify, might be the difference, for some students, between going to college and not.

A little history: the former Wilmington Succeeds and now Clinton County Succeeds program was founded in the wake of the economic downturn as an outreach to the community. Leaders in local government, education and financial institutions heralded the program as innovative and greatly appreciated.

Indeed, commuting to school locally alleviates the additional expense for room and board (which at all public and private institutions averages $12,000 a year).

The College is pleased that more than 120 students from Clinton County are currently enrolled, with 83 percent of these students commuting from home.

It is important to note that Clinton County Succeeds aid is need based and should not be confused with non-need based aid like academic scholarships and other talent-based awards, which are competitive and have set criteria for qualification.

Of course, Clinton County students are eligible to apply for both need and non-need based awards, regardless of whether or not they qualify for Clinton County Succeeds.

In just a few short years, Clinton County Succeeds has become a successful program that’s been well received by the community. It is greatly appreciated by families and individuals who have benefited or are benefiting from what, for many, is an outstanding — and often transformational — educational experience steeped in opportunities for hands-on learning, leadership development and personal growth.

College officials are considering ways to possibly expand the program outside the county.

I wish to thank my colleague and the concerned individual for bringing this to my attention. I work at a college where all opinions are respected.

With 2020 upon us, it is my wish that my monthly column continues to educate county residents on pathways toward making a college degree attainable and affordable.

Best wishes for a happy new year!

Dennis Kelly is senior vice president/chief enrollment officer at Wilmington College. A nationally known enrollment administrator, he has consulted and presented extensively on higher education and post-graduation career choices.

Dennis Kelly

Contributing columnist