ECSU partners with non-profit to provide increased financial aid

Jul. 9—WILLIMANTIC — Eastern Connecticut State University has announced a new partnership with a Waterbury-based non-profit that will provide increased financial aid to students living in the Brass City.

Eastern will match Waterbury Promise scholarships by up to $5,000 starting this fall.

"Scholars will be able to define their success and build upon the wealth of resources at Eastern Connecticut State University through graduation and into their respective careers," Waterbury Promise Executive Director Kelondra Maull said in a press release issued by Eastern.

U. S. News and World Report has recognized Eastern as a national leader for the value of the education at the university. The partnership with Waterbury aims to make an education at Eastern more affordable for Waterbury students. The Waterbury Promise, which was modeled after the New Haven Promise and Hartford Promise programs, was launched in 2021.

Eastern is the first school in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system to partner with Waterbury Promise, a non-profit established in 2021. "This partnership provides an opportunity for students of all different backgrounds to see themselves in a college classroom and it gives them the confidence and resources needed to be successful in their future educational endeavors," Eastern Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Jennifer Brown said in the press release. " We are excited to include Waterbury Promise as a member of the Eastern family."

Waterbury Promise scholarships are applied to the remaining balance, up to the annual scholarship maximum, after all other scholarships, grants and financial aid, including federal student loans.

The non-profit also established a partnership with the University of Connecticut recently.

Waterbury Promise is phasing in the amount of scholarship funding it will provide to Eastern students. Eastern Admissions Director Raena Beetham said students in the first cohort will receive $1,250 per year for four years, for a total of $5,000.

In addition to that, Eastern will provide the first cohort with up to $5,000 per year for four years, or an additional $20,000.

Beetham said some conditions apply, including a requirement that students live on-campus.

To receive a Waterbury Promise scholarship, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA, complete and submit a FAFSA application, have a 90 percent attendance rate in high school, live in Waterbury and plan to attend a two-year or fouryear accredited Connecticut college or university.

They also must have attended high school for four years and graduated from Holy Cross High School, W.F. Kaynor Technical High School or Waterbury High School. Only full-time college students are eligible.

"We believe that these partnerships are really important because with the partnership they have support services from the program as well as support services from Eastern," Eastern Connecticut State University President Elsa Nunez said.

She said the partnership will enable Eastern to improve recruitment and retention.

Nunez said the current four year-graduation rate is about 64 percent, the highest of all of the state universities in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System.

She said Eastern tries to recruit students from Willimantic, but they often don't want to come to Eastern " because it's in their backyard."

Nunez said it is easier to recruit in Waterbury because prospective students "want to go to a different place."

She estimated that there are 200 or so Waterbury residents in the incoming freshmen class, which has about 1,000 students.

Follow Michelle Warren on Twitter — @mwarrentc.