U announces scholarship

The new scholarship is funded by University and private sources.

Anna Weggel

University President Bob Bruininks introduced a new scholarship that will help low-income Minnesota students.

Bruininks announced the scholarship and other improvement strategies at the State of the University address in front of approximately 250 students, staff and faculty members Thursday at Coffman Union.

The Founders Opportunity Scholarship will help bridge the gap in funding that some low-income students face between their aid packages and required tuition and fees, Bruininks said.

Students who qualify to receive the Pell Grant will be able to receive full tuition and required fees support for the University through grants and work-study programs.

To qualify for the Pell Grant, students must be from low-income families and meet the University’s admissions standards, Bruininks said.

“The Founders Opportunity Scholarship is a commitment to keep the doors to this university and the unique education it offers open to talented students from all walks of life,” he said.

The scholarship is funded by University and private sources, and over time will guarantee federal, state and University grants and work-study awards of $8,000 to $10,000 annually to more than 8,000 students.

Bruininks also said that this year, the University will put an additional $2.5 million toward supporting a tuition waiver and health-care costs for graduate students.

He said that by July 1, the University plans to increase the hourly salary for teaching and research assistants who are at the bottom of their pay scales.

“We must continue to improve the compensation and support for the University’s graduate and professional students,” he said.

Bruininks said the University will soon get more money from tuition than from state support.

“Federal funding for student aid programs has failed to keep pace with the rising cost of higher education,” he said.

During a question-and-answer session, Minnesota

Student Association President Tom Zearley asked Bruininks how all University voices are going to be heard if two task forces are doing all the University’s strategic planning.

Bruininks responded by saying that although many people criticize the level of consultation on important subjects, everyone cannot agree with all decisions at the University.

“It’s just impossible to do,” he said.

Zearley said he felt Bruininks dodged the question, but he said he and Bruininks will discuss the issue further throughout the semester.

Regent Patricia Simmons said she liked the message of strength and applying new ideas in Bruininks’ speech.

“He gave a lot of hope,” she said. “I know we have a lot of tough decisions ahead.”