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Enrollment strategy attracting good students

By Netta S. Eisler

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 35 - June 29, 1995

In response to the need to increase out-of-state enrollment as well as to attract more high-caliber students to Virginia Tech, the university has implemented three new scholarship programs. The results so far are impressive.

As of last week, 4,830 of the 11,600 students offered admission to the university had accepted. That's 600 more than the average freshman class of 4,200.

Even more notable is the fact that 1,300 of those who have accepted admission offers are out-of-state students--the group the university depends on to make up for budget shortfalls because of the higher rates they pay.

According to Jacqueline Nottingham, assistant director of admissions, Executive Vice President Minnis Ridenour proposed implementing three new scholarship programs, all designed for outstanding students. The programs are:

* One-time, $2,000 scholarships for 250 out-of-state students. Funded through the Virginia Tech Foundation, the scholarships are available to students with minimum SAT scores of 1,100, compared with the freshman class average of 1,074.

* Scholarships for 50 out-of-state students in the top 10 percent of their high-school class with a minimum SAT of 1,200. These scholarships, funded by state money, will also be $2,000 each.

An Emerging Leader Scholarship Program, which will provide subsidies equal to the cost of a year's room and board for 100 out-of-state students. These scholarships, which will be about $3,100 for the 1995-96 academic year, are funded by state money and with $60,000 from the Corps.

The ROTC units, the Corps of Cadets, and the Office of Admissions worked together to identify students for the Emerging Leader Scholarship Program. "It was a great team effort," Nottingham said.

The number of students who will be in the Corps in the fall is up by 100 over last year. The majority of the students receiving the Emerging Leader's scholarships already receive federal scholarships that cover tuition and fees. They are top students from around the nation, who score 50 or 60 points higher on the SAT than the average freshman class member. "With the addition of the Emerging Leader's scholarship, these outstanding students have all their financial needs met," said Nottingham.

According to Julie Sina, director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, her staff had finished making financial awards for the upcoming year when the new programs were implemented. "We worked weekend after weekend after weekend to get these scholarships awarded," Sina said. Information had to be entered manually for each potential recipient. Despite the heavy work load, the staff completed the task. "It really makes all the difference in the world to parents when their child gets a scholarship," Sina said.

"Financial-aid information is really critical for entering or returning students," Sina added. That's why she has restructured the office so that each student seeking aid has a counselor who comes up with a total aid package designed to meet individual needs. Sina and her staff also have worked to ensure that they are more accessible to students.

"These programs will attract higher-caliber students, which is really good for the university," Nottingham said. "When you bring in outstanding students, they tend to attract more. These scholarship recipients are the type of students who always strive for higher levels. I would think most faculty members will be excited about the opportunity of teaching and working with them."