What is the value of a Wheaton education?
For the more than 60 percent of Wheaton students who receive financial aid, the answer might be: "priceless."
As one international student expressed it:
I come from a very humble country. In my country, only one percent of the entire population gets to have a college education. I want to go to law school. I want to do international law. It is unbelievable to me at this point, three years [after starting at Wheaton], to be saying these words.
Another scholarship student, a young woman studying the sciences, spoke of a Wheaton global experience that transformed her:
I was able to travel to South Africa to teach chemistry my sophomore year. It feels amazing to me to know that there are women there who now think that they can be scientists too, and to know that they have that kind of ambition, that they saw it through me, and that I lit the fire for them.
Door to opportunity
For Wheaton's scholarship students, financial aid opens the door to educational opportunity. Scholarships are also a potent tool for Wheaton to develop a student body that is diverse by every measure: ethnic, racial, geographic, political and economic. This diversity enriches every aspect of campus life. Again, a student tells it best:
I don't think anyone wants a Wheaton that is only for those who can afford to pay for it. I don't think our alums want that, and I don't think the students want that. There are a lot of students who bring very different experiences, and that's a part of the education here. Diversity is a part of the education here, because that's how you see other perspectives. That's how you realize how things you've never even thought about need to be incorporated into your own view of the world.
Again and again, students testify to how much their scholarships mean to them.
The need continues
But for many, the aid that Wheaton offers is not enough. Even with grants and work study, many Wheaton students today are graduating with heavy debt burdens--up to $80,000 or more--that limit their choices for work and graduate school. Still other gifted students must turn down Wheaton's offer of admission because the costs are beyond their families' reach.
The college recognizes the urgent need faced by its students and has identified scholarship aid as a highest priority. Over the next several years, Wheaton hopes to raise at least $45 million to augment its scholarship endowment. These new resources will generate an additional $2.25 million in grant money to students every year.