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UofL improving education accessibility, lessening student debt

Students walk together outside the UofL Student Activities Center. The university is reporting improvements in its accessibility efforts.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — University of Louisville by police is committed to increasing accessibility, affordability and equity for students of all backgrounds so they can take advantage of learning opportunities and experiences to follow their dreams without a heavy financial burden.

So far, the plan is working. In the past few years, Cardinals have graduated with the second-lowest student debt among all Kentucky four-year public universities.

In 2024, the university is supporting students with an infusion of need-based aid. “We’re dramatically increasing aid, going to a 20% increase in need-based aid,” said Jim Begany, vice president for enrollment management.

By expanding the Cardinal Commitment Grant, including additional states eligible for the Border Benefit award and investing in merit-based scholarships, UofL continues to remove financial barriers to college for students who go on to strengthen the community and state.

Cardinal Commitment Grant

UofL is investing $2.4 million toward the Cardinal Commitment Grant in 2024. The grant helps to close the gap between eligible Kentucky students’ financial aid and the cost of attendance, which includes tuition, dining, transportation, books and other expenses.

Previously available only to Pell Grant students, the Cardinal Commitment award expanded to include students with financial need who do not qualify for Pell Grants. All first-time freshman Kentucky residents who have been accepted to UofL and have a demonstrated financial need based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are eligible for the automatic Cardinal Commitment Grant.

“Part of our mission is to move the needle on social mobility and really attract first-generation, low-income students and others by which a college education could transform the lives of not just them but also their generations of family and family members,” said Jenny Sawyer, executive director of admissions. “This grant allows students to really maximize the opportunities at UofL and puts them in a position to not just be able to afford to go to school, but also afford to have a deep, impactful experience while they’re here.”

Border Benefit Award

Students from outside Kentucky can also access an affordable education at UofL through the Border Benefit program, which gives residents of select bordering states and metropolitan areas the chance to attend UofL at in-state tuition rates.

Beginning in fall 2024, the Border Benefit award will expand to include transfer and first-time college students in all counties in Ohio and West Virginia. The award is already available to students from all Illinois and Indiana counties, select Ohio counties and some counties surrounding the Nashville and St. Louis metropolitan areas.

Students residing in regional areas can receive an estimated $16,000 per year award, which reduces their tuition to the equivalent of Kentucky in-state tuition. In fall 2023, Border Benefit students made up over 13% of the incoming freshman class.

Merit-based scholarships

UofL’s efforts to improve accessibility and make college affordable also include high-achieving students through expanded investments in merit-based, competitive scholarships such as the Grawemeyer Scholarship, McConnell Scholars, Martin Luther King Scholars, Woodford R. Porter Scholarship and Henry Vogt Scholarship programs.

These niche scholarship programs encourage research, innovation and intellectual curiosity at the university and attract students who took rigorous high school curricula and are committed to creating positive change in the commonwealth and beyond.

Benji Kostic, a Vogt Scholarship recipient, is a first-generation American whose parents moved to Louisville as refugees from Bosnia. The biology major, who will graduate in May, works in clinical research at the Norton Leatherman Spine Center and as a chemistry tutor at UofL and hopes to one day become an orthopedic surgeon.

“The Vogt Scholarship allowed me to explore various opportunities at UofL because I didn’t have a financial burden,” Kostic said. “I was able to join clubs and get involved without also getting a job to pay for my schooling. It made me feel very free.”