Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez –
In just a few weeks we’ll be welcoming back students for the fall semester. They will be resuming their studies, reconnecting with friends and participating once again in campus activities.
However, there are students who will not be returning, some for good reasons, and others deeply regrettable.
We’re happy that our recent graduates will not be returning. They’re busy applying what they learned to become leaders in their professions and communities.
Other students have internships that take them off campus. This real-world experience will complement their classwork, providing practical context for what they’ve been learning.
Still others will be studying abroad. They will be challenged to move out of their comfort zones by adapting to circumstances and cultures that can be quite different from what they’re familiar with. As students acclimate to their new surroundings they develop a global perspective that is essential for success. According to the state Chamber of Commerce there are 1,200 international companies doing business right here in South Carolina.
Sadly, there are students not returning this fall who would very much like to be. We’re all familiar with students for whom the pressure of adapting to college life created a stress from which they needed relief, while others required time off to address a personal or family tragedy.
Perhaps the largest number not returning confronted unexpected financial problems. That is certainly not to say they were on their own. SCICU institutions are deeply committed to providing the opportunity to all students who aspire to a college education, regardless of their background. In higher education, access is often measured by the percentage of students who qualify for need-based Federal Pell grants. SCICU research indicates fully half of undergraduate students attending SCICU colleges and universities during the 2016-17 academic year were Pell-eligible.
Our campuses do an incredible job of supporting their students. The largest form of student aid is not from the federal or state governments, but from SCICU institutions themselves, who awarded an amazing $297 million to students in the form of scholarships and grants – this is aid that does not need to be paid back.
Despite our best efforts many students tread on financially thin ice. Sadly, just a few hundred dollars may be too great an obstacle to great for these students to overcome.
At SCICU we are very proud to offer our campuses support through the Discretionary Scholarship Program which targets our most economically vulnerable students. Our campuses use the SCICU Discretionary Scholarship Program to help their students address an unexpected financial emergency so they can continue to benefit from an independent college education. With this program, campuses don’t need to hold back funding for emergencies that could be used in the financial aid packages of their students.
In the coming year SCICU will remain dedicated to supporting our member institutions through the Discretionary Scholarship Program and other initiatives so they can remain focused on student success.