The Rochester Promise initiative, which will be available to applicants for the 2008-09 academic year, will offer a $25,000 tuition benefit annually to students who earned their high school diploma in the Rochester City School District and are admitted to the University of Rochester.
The University estimates that the scholarships will be worth $1 million annually. It is hoped that at least 40 students a year who might otherwise have considered a degree from the University of Rochester out of their financial reach will take advantage of the special financial aid. Should the number of students increase beyond the current estimation, funding will be revised accordingly to ensure that every deserving student receives the $25,000 benefit.
To be eligible for the award, students must have attended a district high school for the entirety of their junior and senior years and be admitted to the University for the fall of 2008 or thereafter. The award is also available for college students who transfer to the University and meet the RCSD attendance requirement.
"This initiative will make it possible for many more promising young students to aspire to the highest quality education they can achieve," said University President Joel Seligman, who unveiled the Rochester Promise plan at a press conference today in the University's Office of Admissions alongside Rochester Interim Superintendent of Schools William C. Cala and Mayor Robert J. Duffy. "Rochester Promise reinforces the University of Rochester's longstanding commitment to our city and to fostering quality education and exciting opportunities in its public schools."
The benefit is a University-funded scholarship, according to Director of Admissions Jonathan Burdick, for graduates of Rochester public high schools who have proven they can make the grade by meeting admissions requirements at the University. Recipients may also apply for financial aid based on need and merit from other sources.
"Students excelling in our city schools can bring a critical and valuable perspective to campus," Burdick said. "But for many, the financial barriers to universities like Rochester have become discouraging. I hope this pledge will make it easier for both current seniors and future graduates to become excited about the prospect of attending one of the country's leading universities in their hometown."
In addition to the tuition commitment, the University will waive its application processing fee for students at Rochester city public schools. The fee is $50 for applications sent by mail and $20 for those filed online.
"Through Rochester Promise, the University of Rochester is opening its doors wider than ever before to our students," Superintendent Cala said. "This program removes the financial barriers from high-achieving students and allows them to reap the benefits of a world-class college education."
In his remarks, Mayor Duffy thanked the University and President Seligman for what he called "ongoing dedication and outstanding contributions to our community."
"The Rochester Promise program is a tremendous investment in our young people and will open the door of opportunity for many deserving city students," Duffy said.
Rochester Promise is the University's second tuition benefit program set aside specifically for RCSD students. In 2004, the University began offering full-tuition scholarships to graduates of the International Baccalaureate Program at Wilson Magnet High School in the RCSD.
It is also the second University initiative announced in recent weeks that is aimed at supporting the college aspirations of RCSD students.
In October, the University launched two new Upward Bound programs funded by a $2 million grant from the United States Department of Education that will expose as many as 100 district students to college life over four years.
The RCSD will assist in distributing information about the Rochester Promise plan and in identifying potential students for the initiative.
Incoming Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard said: "The Rochester Promise will go a long way to open doors for many of our students. We need to create a 'college-going' culture in our district by ensuring that our secondary school curriculum is rigorous, aligned to post-secondary standards, and that our students are prepared for the challenge. I look forward to working with the University in our efforts to improve our students' preparedness for post-secondary studies."
Thirty-three graduates of the RCSD are now enrolled at the University as undergraduates.