First Year Forward

Hamilton College (NY)

[White House Summit on College Opportunity, Jan. 2014]

Hamilton College will raise $1.5 million to endow and make permanent “First-Year Forward,” a pilot program designed to help new students, with exceptional potential and who demonstrate financial need, obtain meaningful and exploratory career-related experiences. Students who are the first in their family to attend college are given special consideration for this program. Those who commit to and meet with the expectations of the program and obtain an approved career-related experience the summer between their first and second years will receive a $2,000 stipend to compensate for lost summer earnings.

Hamilton will also expand, as appropriate, its Student Emergency Aid Society (SEAS) to provide all students with an equivalent educational experience. Thanks to a grant from the Hearst Foundation and other gifts, SEAS was established to support emergency or exceptional needs (e.g., a flight home to be with a sick parent, medical expenses, clothes appropriate for job interviews or travel to a career-related activity) for students whose financial barriers are significant. SEAS can accommodate annual requests totaling $25,000, but the College recognizes that as it enrolls more students from low-income families, the fund will have to grow.

Building on Existing Efforts: Hamilton’s commitments address gaps in experience and opportunities available to students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and build on a series of concrete steps taken in recent years to expand the College’s reputation as a “school of opportunity.” In 2007, Hamilton reallocated all merit aid to need-based aid. Three years later, the College became need-blind in admission and added a second Posse. The College meets 100 percent of students’ demonstrated need by allocating more than $32 million in institutional aid to need-based scholarships, an increase of 85 percent in the past decade.

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