BELOIT - Beloit College is offering regional high school seniors an extra incentive to matriculate nearby - a $32,000 annual scholarship.
Students who reside in the Wisconsin counties of Green, Rock and Walworth or the Illinois counties of Boone, Stephenson and Winnebago are eligible for the college's new Stateline Scholarship.
The scholarship will be awarded to every student from these six counties who is accepted to the college, said Bill Mortimer, director of enrollment.
He said the scholarship will provide $32,000 per year to students for a total of four years.
Beloit College President Scott Bierman said in a statement that he believes the college offers a "tailored one-of-a-kind education" in local students' backyards.
"We believe every academically qualified student in the Stateline region should have access to our extraordinary interdisciplinary, international, and experiential liberal arts experience," Bierman said in a news release.
Mortimer said the college currently enrolls 115 students from the six counties, roughly 10 percent of the student body.
He said the tuition for the 2019-2020 school year hasn't been set yet. The overall cost for Beloit College's 2018-19 school year, including tuition, fees, room and board, is $58,870.
Students applying at Beloit College for the fall 2019 semester (and beyond) are eligible for the scholarship. Mortimer said transfer students for the fall who attend schools in the Stateline Area or have permanent addresses in the area will be eligible for the new scholarship. However, Beloit College's policy is to set merit scholarships at the time of admission, so current students will not be eligible.
"We've had some phenomenal students located in our own backyard, and we saw this scholarship as a way to enroll more of these students," Mortimer said.
Once students are admitted to the college, he said there is no minimum GPA students must maintain to keep their scholarship so long as students are moving towards a degree.
"We want students to challenge themselves and take difficult courses without worrying about their GPA if they don't do as well as they would like," Mortimer said.
The Stateline Scholarship will be offered to students in lieu of other merit-based scholarships. Mortimer said the amount is equal to the largest scholarship the college offers.
When considering students for admissions, Mortimer said the college asks two questions: "Can the student do the work, and is this a student who will be impacted by Beloit and who will leave an impact on Beloit as well?"
"Beloit students are curious, they often have multiple interests and they're interested in exploring the world and answering the big questions in life," Mortimer said. "Students who have those qualities tend to do well at Beloit and tend to be the students we admit."
This new scholarship comes after the college announced layoffs and salary decreases among other plans to combat its approximately $7 million budget deficit for the 2018-2019 school year back in August.
College officials blame the deficit on lower enrollment numbers for the incoming freshman classes and estimated lower retention rates for sophomores.
The college had 271 freshman students on campus back in August, and there was approximately a 79 percent retention rate for freshmen transitioning into their sophomore year.
The college had two of its best enrollment years for the incoming freshman class in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. The college had 383 students enroll in 2014-2015 and 360 enroll in 2015-2016.
During the 2017-2018 school year, the college had 323 students enroll in its freshman class.
To combat this shortfall, in May the college developed Beloit Forward - comprised of elected faculty members, college trustees and senior staff - to respond to enrollment and retention declines, address budget imperatives, tell the college's story and attract the support of alumni and friends of the college.
In the admission's office, Mortimer said the college is working to get to know students as individuals to figure out what their goals are when they arrive on campus.
The regular decision application deadline is Jan. 15. Mortimer said the college likely will start sending out admissions notifications around mid-February for this group of applicants.