WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — UConn is hoping to help remove one barrier for students who want to go to college but cannot afford it.
“What this does today? It closes gaps,” said Waterbury’s Deputy Superintendent of Schools Darren Schwartz.
He said the partnership between UConn and Waterbury Promise, a financial aid program which provides scholarships for students, will provide an opportunity many of the city’s 19,000 students don’t have.
“It’s a game changer,” said Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary. “But most importantly it’s a life changer.”
For eligible students who enroll in their first year at UConn, the students will get $5,000 for that year and each of the next three years after that.
“I’m super excited,” said Kaitlyn Basant, a senior at Waterbury Career Academy High School.
She hopes to pursue a career in medicine.
“It’s a lot of schooling that I can’t afford and having help like that from Waterbury and now from UConn is just so exciting to hear,” Basant said.
Students who receive the scholarship can go to any UConn campus. But Basant, like many, may want to stay close to home. Fortunately for her, Waterbury offers several four-year degrees including one in Allied Health and even an MBA.
“The biggest struggle of it all is not the motivation and the willingness to get educated, it’s the financial,” said Efrain Torren of Waterbury who said this would have helped him when he was in school.
“Tuition this year to come to UConn is $15,030 so the $5,000 from UConn of course takes care of a third of that,” said Nathan Fuerst, VP for Enrollment for UConn.
There are also Waterbury Promise scholarships and Pell Grant money that can help.
Currently, there are between 40 and 50 Waterbury students who enroll in UConn each year and the university is hoping that this partnership really boosts up those numbers.
UConn already partners with Hartford Promise and New Haven Promise and has seen a fifty percent increase in enrollment from those cities.
“We’re pleased to say this agreement will give that opportunity to some of Waterbury’s best students,” said Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, Interim President of UConn.
370 Waterbury students are now eligible for this financial help and if all of them wanted to enroll and were accepted to UConn, they would all get this money.