College of LAS expands need-based scholarship offerings

New LAS Morrill Scholarships and an expanded Lincoln Scholars Initiative will assist students just above cutoff for Illinois Commitment
Students in a crowd
The College of LAS is expanding need-based scholarship offerings to students.

The College of LAS is creating a new scholarship program, and expanding an already existing program, to significantly increase the number of need-based scholarships for students from Illinois to study liberal arts and sciences.

Feng Sheng Hu, the Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS, said that the new scholarship, called the LAS Morrill Scholarship, will offer $4,000 per year (renewable for up to four years) to academically strong students whose family incomes sit immediately above the cutoff for Illinois Commitment, the financial aid package which provides free tuition to students whose annual family incomes are at or below $67,100.

Additionally, the college is doubling the number of scholarships offered through the successful Lincoln Scholar Initiative, which provides $5,000 per year (renewable for up to four years) to academically strong students from Illinois with financial need. The Lincoln Scholars Initiative began providing scholarships in 2012.

In total, the college will name 70 LAS Morrill Scholars and 30 Lincoln Scholars for Fall 2020. Recipients will be selected by financial aid officers, who will notify admitted students prior to the admission acceptance deadline so they can factor the scholarships into their decision whether to attend Illinois.

“This is an unprecedented number of need-based scholarships offered by the college,” said Hu. “Our goal is to create more opportunities for students of families that narrowly miss the income eligibility for the Illinois Commitment program. These scholarships will make attending college possible for many deserving students.”

Barbara Hancin-Bhatt, associate dean for student academic affairs in the College of LAS, said that the LAS Morrill Scholarships have been made available to students of families whose incomes fall between $67,101 and $90,000. She added that the LAS Morrill Scholarships are eligible to both incoming first-year students and transfer students; the Lincoln Scholars Initiative scholarships are eligible to incoming first-year students.

“It’s important that need-based financial aid is available to strong students whose family incomes fall just above the cutoff for Illinois Commitment,” Hancin-Bhatt said. “For many of those families, the cost of attending college is still onerous.”

Over the years, donors have provided significant support for the Lincoln Scholars Initiative, and Hu said that he hopes that the new LAS Morrill Scholarship program will also receive support from donors who want to help students afford a college education.

“Finding ways to make higher education affordable to students who deserve the opportunity is vitally important to the College of LAS,” Hu said. “At the heart of our academic mission is the incredible potential of people who sometimes need help to study here.”  

The LAS Morrill Scholarship is named for the Morrill Act, which Abraham Lincoln signed into law in 1862. The Morrill Act, which succeeded in large part thanks to the efforts of Illinoisan and public higher education advocate Jonathan Baldwin Turner, led to the creation of land-grant universities, including U of I.

To learn more about how to support scholarships, visit here.

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Dave Evensen