BOSTON – Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston University (BU) announced the expansion of the Boston University scholarship program for graduates of Boston Public Schools, offering even more students an opportunity to pursue their degree debt-free.
The BU Community Service Awards , a seven-year-old program that has been limited to incoming freshman, will be made available to incoming transfer students who are Boston public high school graduates, beginning with the fall semester of 2017.
“This scholarship will make a tremendous impact in the lives of our BPS students,” said Mayor Walsh. “We know that BPS graduates are smart, dedicated individuals, and Boston University is offering them a fantastic opportunity to pursue their degree, without the financial burden so many students have to take on. I’m grateful Boston has a strong academic partner in Boston University, and look forward to BPS students benefitting from the expanded scholarship program.”
“Boston University is deepening its commitment to the City of Boston, as we remain dedicated to providing world-class higher education,” said BU President Robert A. Brown. “We are pleased to be able to offer scholarships to Boston Public School graduates, and are hopeful this expansion of the program will allow more students from Boston to study and graduate from Boston University.”
The expanded scholarship program builds on Mayor Walsh’s commitment to expanding higher education opportunities for all BPS graduates. In April, the City began a free community college program for BPS graduates, allowing students to enroll in a Boston community college at Bunker Hill Community College or Roxbury Community College under the City’s Tuition Free Plan. In addition, the City of Boston has also launched the Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program, helping BPS students save for their future college education.
BPS graduation rates are at historic highs, with recent data capturing high school graduation rates at 71 percent. Boston is also seeing consistent progress in college completion rates, as approximately 30 percent of black and Hispanic students who enter college after high school complete their degree within six years.
The BU program, which currently supports 150 BU undergraduates, meets the full calculated financial needs of students, including tuition, room and board, books, supplies, travel, and fees, all without loans.
Christine McGuire, vice president ad interim for enrollment and student affairs, says 35 to 40 freshman each year take advantage of the program, which has a graduation rate of 94 percent. The cost to the University averages $41,000 per year, per student.
“The Community Service scholars program is the main reason why I’m even at BU. It’s the reason why my two sisters were also able to attend and graduate from BU,” says Rosy Chen (English 2017), a 2013 graduate of Boston Latin School who is studying computer engineering. Her sisters are also BU students: Anna Chen (Questrom School of Business 2013) and Helen Chen (Questrom School of Business 2015). Their mother is a seamstress, and her father works in a restaurant.
“There was no way my family would have been able to afford putting my sisters and me through four years at BU each,” said Chen. “But the Community Service program changed that. It’s not very often that someone can graduate from a private institution without any loans, but the program made it possible for me and my sisters. And I’m grateful for that. With this degree, I’ll be able to get access to more opportunities, whether it be grad school in the future or whatever career path I choose to follow.”
Any BPS graduate who is admitted based on BU’s transfer admissions standards would be eligible for the expanded scholarship program and debt-free financial aid program. All BPS transfer students are eligible, including students who attend a two-year community college program, before graduating with an associate’s degree and transferring to a four-year institution for their bachelor’s degree.
The program, created in 2009, has served over 348 Boston Public Schools graduates with over $36 million in scholarships. It provides a University faculty or staff mentor for each student as a resource and support throughout their four years.
Community Service Award recipients must maintain a 2.00 cumulative GPA and successfully complete at least 12 credits per semester. After their first semester, they are required to perform 25 hours of community service per semester, under the guidance of their mentor. They must also reapply for financial aid each year, including income verification documents.
The cost is mostly met with University scholarship funding. If eligible, students in the program may also receive federal grants and work-study funding. Students must complete the normal financial aid process, which includes submitting a CSS Profile and FAFSA applications.
BU also funds the Thomas M. Menino Scholarship Program, which supports up to 25 exemplary incoming students each year with four years’ full tuition.