Kalamazoo, Michigan – A record donation of $550 million to Western Michigan University will fund full scholarships for low-income Michigan students.
President Edward Montgomery announced Thursday, December 9, at a recent event in Detroit, that the Broncos promise will provide a tuition-free Western education for up to five years to first-year students who come from families earning less than $50,000.
“Western is committed to opening the doors to higher education for all students who have the talent and determination to succeed,” Montgomery said.
Students who attend Kalamazoo Public Schools or have an address in Detroit or Grand Rapids will receive preference for need-based scholarships, but all Michigan residents are eligible to apply. Applications are due on February 15, 2022, and decisions will be issued in March.
The Bronco Promise, whose name echoes the first Kalamazoo Promise Grant, is the first initiative created by WMU with funding from Empowering Futures Gift, a contribution that pledged $550 million to WMU over 10 years.
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The funds are also intended to provide low-cost housing, a new live and innovative learning community, internships and scholarships to 1,350 incoming and current students during the first year alone, the university said in a press release.
“The university is building an ecosystem of financial aid and program support designed to meet students wherever they are and support them in their ambitions,” Montgomery said.
The Empowering Futures gift was announced in June. This gift will support WMU, Homer Stryker MD College of Medicine at Western Michigan University and WMU Athletics, the president said. Montgomery said the gift is the largest donation ever made to a public institution in US history.
WMU expected to provide full scholarships to 340 students in the 2022-23 academic year and is expected to reach 600 students each year after that, according to the release.
The Future Empowerment Gift will also provide up to $6,000 in housing and dining scholarships for 110 incoming students in their first year and provide “comprehensive support through the Bronco experience in the form of a new living learning community,” university leaders said.
Societies will center around an issue such as social justice or an competence such as leadership.
Additionally, the funds will provide financial support for internships at private and nonprofit organizations, and support up to $3,600 in wages for up to 100 students each year with competitive needs-based stipends.
Finally, funds are set to support 800 upper-level students each year with an as-needed stipend of up to $1,000 that can be applied to tuition and fees. The prospectus said it would double the number of graduate scholarships currently offered at Western University.
“The university remains fully aware that a comprehensive approach requires financial assistance and more,” Montgomery said. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Students need support. They need guidance. They need the university to join them on their journey. And the West is committed to rising to this challenge.”
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