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Published: Thursday, 2/12/2009

Students get introduction to tuition-free UT program

BY CHARLIE BOSS
COLUMBUS DISPATCH

COLUMBUS - Kiera Bradley had applied to three colleges. Yesterday, the Eastmoor Academy senior added a fourth, which might be her top pick: the University of Toledo.

In a day's time, she applied to the college, was accepted, and learned about how to attend all four years there tuition-free.

"It's really cool for them to allow us to go ahead and do applications and accept us," said Ms. Bradley, 18. "Maybe I would like to go there."

More than 430 Columbus high-school seniors gathered yesterday to learn about the university's "Guarantee Scholarship," which offers four years of free tuition to eligible students. The program is available to students from 15 urban districts.

All walked away with an acceptance letter and a sense of what Toledo could offer them. Now they just need confirmation that they qualify for the scholarship and can get into the major they want.

"It was my third choice" of the colleges under consideration, said Jamie Gautt, 18, of East High School. "Now it's my second."

Experts said more public universities and community colleges have been beefing up outreach efforts for students who don't typically consider college.

"For many students, this might be the fulcrum point of believing they can go to college," said David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Mr. Hawkins said he's heard of admissions visits to individual high schools, but none like Toledo's program.

The university's admissions officials guided students through the application process yesterday. Once they completed it, the students received acceptance letters and a welcome packet. They heard from current Toledo students from the Columbus area and spoke to officials from various university programs.

Kevin Kucera, associate vice president of enrollment services at the University of Toledo, said the session at Columbus Alternative High School was a chance to bring the university to potential students.

To qualify for the Guarantee Scholarship, students must have a 3.0 grade-point average, file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and qualify for a Pell Grant, the main federal-aid program for needy students.

Tuition and fees at the University of Toledo cost $7,929. Under the guarantee, the school will pay whatever isn't covered by Pell and state grants.

The scholarship is good for four years if students keep a 3.0 grade-point average, complete 30 credit hours a year, and file the federal aid form annually.



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