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Higher Education Thought Leadership

Expanded financial aid allows Emory students to aim even higher

Maya Caron wants to be a doctor.

Ben Damon wants to impact policy.

Rosseirys De La Rosa wants to support her family.

Anna Lindquist wants to teach people the power of words.

Every student comes to college with a dream. At Emory University, financial aid programs help make these dreams a reality. Through Emory’s need-based aid — using scholarships, grants and the newly expanded Emory Advantage program — students can make the most of their time on campus.

“For Emory to fulfill our mission of serving humanity in all that we do, we are continuing to invest in making an Emory education affordable to talented students of all financial backgrounds,” says President Gregory L. Fenves. “By eliminating need-based loans for undergraduates, our students have the opportunity to earn their Emory degrees with less debt as they embark on their extraordinary journeys after graduation.”

For students such as Rosseirys De La Rosa, financial aid makes college possible. The senior from Lynn, Massachusetts, is majoring in anthropology and human biology with a minor in African American studies. Through a combination of the Emory University Grant (awarded to students with demonstrated need) and the Emory Advantage Loan Replacement Grant, along with federal aid, De La Rosa has been able to maximize her experience. Her sophomore year, she conducted research on the DNA of Indigenous peoples in Uruguay, inspiring her to want to pursue a PhD after graduation.

She is also the president of the Association of Caribbean Students and Educators, vice president of Black and Latinx in STEM and a mentor through the M.O.R.E. and 1915 Scholars programs.

“Not having to worry about using my job to pay off loans, buy books and groceries — there is no way I could have healthily done that, get good grades and still be an active member of the Emory community without financial aid,” says De La Rosa. “I am forever grateful because not having to worry about my financials at school allowed me to do all these amazing things that have given me a well-rounded education at Emory.”

For Maya Caron, a junior from Deltona, Florida, 1915 Scholars has been a boon to her education. The program provides mentorship for first-generation college students, who often receive need-based aid, to help them get from admission to Commencement.

Caron says she had never heard of Emory before a high school counselor suggested she apply. With ambitions of being a doctor, Caron says she knew she didn’t want a lot of undergraduate debt because of the cost of medical school. Caron receives need-based scholarships and grants from Emory, as well as federal grants to help fund her education.

“Without financial aid, I would not have been able to attend Emory,” says Caron, who is a business major. “Then I’d have to take out loans for med school. That would be a big stressor.”

Being at Emory has allowed Caron a myriad of hands-on learning opportunities, most notably conducting research through the Emory College SIRE program. Under the tutelage of Miranda Moore, an assistant professor focusing on health care delivery in Emory School of Medicine, Caron researched patient perceptions of different primary care models.

She also worked as a certified medical assistant at a hospital during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and shadowed a physician’s assistant. She is currently studying for the MCAT and taking prerequisite courses for medical school. With her business education, she plans to open an internal medicine practice.

Programs such as 1915 Scholars provide a network, so students don’t feel alone. Emory’s Mariposa Scholars Program for DACA recipients provides similar support for eligible students.

In addition, Emory’s prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr.-Woodruff Scholarship, which is both merit- and need-based, provides financial aid and mentorship to an incoming student graduating from a public high school in Atlanta. 

Eliminating loans

The university recently announced the expansion of Emory Advantage to eliminate need-based loans as part of undergraduate students’ financial aid packages. The loans will be replaced with institutional grants and scholarships beginning this fall for the 2022-23 academic year.

“Because Emory meets full financial need for our undergraduate students, we provide a pathway to help our students and their families make an Emory education affordable,” says John Leach, associate vice provost for enrollment and university financial aid. “Emory joins a handful of elite institutions in replacing need-based loans with grants — thus giving our undergraduate students the opportunity to graduate debt free.”

Students such as Ben Damon, a first-year student from Austin, Texas, benefit from this investment. Damon took a gap year before coming to Oxford College. He was drawn to Oxford for the strong liberal arts curriculum and close-knit community. A combination of Emory grants and scholarships, Emory Advantage loan replacement grant, and federal aid made it possible.

“The college application process was stressful, but Emory was appealing to me because I’d heard good things about Atlanta and the academic profile fit what I was looking for,” says Damon. “I was looking for a collaborative environment and a strong foundation in liberal arts, so I didn’t have to make a decision about my major right away.”

Damon is on the philosophy, politics and law track, and is considering law school or business school. In the meantime, he is keeping busy as a first-year Student Government Association senator on the budget and health and wellness committees, treasurer of chess club and events coordinator for Oxford’s ballroom dance organization.

Student flourishing

Nearly 42% of Emory’s undergraduate student body receives need-based financial aid. Investing in more need-based aid reflects one of the tenets of the 2O36 campaign: student flourishing. As part of the campaign, the university is hoping to raise $750 million for student scholarships.

“Through the student flourishing initiative, we are making further investments to nurture the whole student and ensure both their professional and personal success,” says Provost Ravi V. Bellamkonda. “We realize that students’ financial well-being can impact their Emory experience, which is why we are making scholarships such a central and critical part of our 2O36 campaign. We are fulfilling our promise to make Emory more accessible for all families, regardless of their socioeconomic status.”

When students have their demonstrated financial need fully met, they perform better in the classroom. They also gain greater freedom to participate in extracurricular activities, research, service-learning and internship/externship opportunities that give them an edge upon graduation. It helps students discover their passions and figure out where they can make a positive difference in the world.

Anna Lindquist, a senior from St. Louis, Missouri, says Emory’s creative writing program has allowed her to dream big as a storyteller. Lindquist started at Oxford with the help of Emory grants and scholarships, as well as federal aid and loans. She says sitting in her first creative writing workshop and sharing her poetry and fiction with the class made her know she was in the right place. Emory is also where she says she found Shakespeare.

“Shakespeare with professor Sarah Higinbotham was one of my favorite classes,” says Lindquist, who is graduating from Emory College this spring with degrees in English and creative writing with a minor in ethics. “I didn’t think I would like it because of the [Elizabethan English], but her passion and the way she taught the class made me love it.”  

At Oxford, outside of the classroom, Lindquist got involved with the photography club and the theatre department. Now as an editor of Alloy, Emory’s annual literary magazine, she is working on a redesign of the publication.

Lindquist says she is simply thankful, because her financial aid has “allowed me a lot of freedom to do the things I always wanted to do.”


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