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BU Seeks to Boost Number of Boston Grads on Campus

Revised Boston Scholars program increases grants for city students


Move your mouse over the graph to see Boston Public School (BPS) graduates offered scholarships compared to BPS graduates who matriculated at BU.

Boston University plans to expand its Boston Scholars program for matriculating graduates of Boston Public Schools by increasing need-based awards and replacing loans with grants, President Robert A. Brown announced on Sunday. The revised program calls for the University to continue to offer full-tuition academic merit scholarships to qualifying Boston residents, while also meeting every admitted student’s full eligibility for need-based financial aid without loans.

For almost three decades, the University has been providing Boston’s public school graduates full-tuition scholarships through the Boston Scholars program, as well as partially funded need-based grants for those residents not selected as Boston Scholars.

This partnership with the city began in 1980, when the University signed an agreement to offer full-tuition scholarships to three qualified graduates from each Boston high school. The inaugural class consisted of 58 students, which has been the target goal every year since. So far, more than 1,700 city graduates have received over $126 million in scholarships from the University.

While the Boston Scholars has become one of the largest scholarship programs for urban high schools in the country, the context in which the program was created has shifted, with changes in the number of Boston high schools, increasing costs, and increasing competition for admission to Boston University. Brown and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01) met on Friday to discuss amendments to the 1980 agreement that would modernize and expand the program. The revised plan substantially increases need-based grant funding for any matriculating public school grad not offered a Boston Scholar merit award, a change that is expected to increase the number of BPS graduates enrolling at BU. In return, these students will complete a community service requirement, an aspect of the new program proposed by Menino. The number of Boston Scholars will be reduced to 20 to 25 scholars per year. Like need-based awardees, merit scholarship recipients also will get their full eligibility for need-based assistance, beyond tuition, funded with grants, not loans.

“This will be the most generous aid program BU has,” says Laurie Pohl, vice president for enrollment and student affairs at BU. “If Boston public school students want to come to BU, we want to make it possible for them to come to BU.”

“Working with the mayor, we are very pleased to be able to meet the full financial need of graduates from the Boston Public Schools without having them rely on loans,” says Brown. “By replacing loans with direct grants, the new program will give access to Boston University to more deserving students from our public schools.”

Menino applauds the changes and predicts a spike in applications from the city’s high school graduates. “I know many parents — and guidance counselors — will recognize that Boston University is creating more opportunities for Boston Public School graduates to get a first-class education right here in Boston, with minimal financial burden.”

Guidance counselors from Boston city schools met with BU admissions staff on Friday, as well, to discuss the revised plan. “I am especially pleased that it broadens the range of options for students, including those students in our district high schools who would love to attend Boston University,” says Carol Johnson, superintendent of Boston Public Schools.

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at cdanilof@bu.edu.


2 Comments on BU Seeks to Boost Number of Boston Grads on Campus

  • Anonymous on 09.23.2008 at 9:23 am

    what would the requirements be like, now that the scholarship is revised?
    and how many students is each high school allowed to niminate?

  • Laurie Pohl on 09.24.2008 at 8:56 am


    Requirements for the full-tuition merit scholarship remain the same as for the current program. Each high school may nominate up to 10 students.

    There are no minimum requirements for the need-based program. Students must be admitted to BU, complete the necessary financial aid forms by the February 15 deadline, and demonstrate financial need using the same calculations that we use for all BU undergraduates.

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