JACKSONVILLE, Fla — We got you.
That's the message from Edward Waters College to its returning Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semester students, and the name of a student support initiative announced Friday that will ease the financial burden of higher education for eligible students and their families. The college committed to paying returning students' financial balances, including tuition and fees, room and board and activity fees.
EWC President Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr. announced the #WeGotYou initiative, "despite the economic downturn being suffered locally, nationally and internationally due to COVID-19."
The initiative is part of the college's recently announced elimination of more than a decade-long deficit, which led to a seven-figure surplus, combined with an expected $3.5 million increase in state support to the college. Earlier this week, EWC announced that because of the surplus and state funding, it will transition from a college to a university.
The initiative's goals include increasing student retention and promoting student persistence at the State of Florida's first Historically Black College and University institution, oldest private college and first institution of higher education, the college said. Students' financial obstacles has traditionally acted as the most significant road block in their path toward graduating from EWC, the college said.
"In 2019, 97% of EWC’s students received some form of financial aid with 88% of the college’s student body being federal Pell Grant recipients, which are federally slated to assist low-resource and low-income students," the college said in a news release.
“Many of our students, their parents or guardians, their grandparents, or significant others are struggling financially due to a loss of income pursuant to a reduction or loss in employment.” Faison said. “As such, we at EWC wanted to provide a way for students to afford to return to our campus and continue their program of study without having to grapple with what for many of them is an untenable and excruciating financial burden right now."
Classes for the fall semester begin Aug. 17, with online, face-to-face and hybrid instruction options available for students for the 2020 through 2021 school year. Registration is ongoing through the month of August.
“I do not know of any other institution in America right now that is telling their students during these challenging financial times, ‘If you want to come back to school, don’t let finances be a deterrent. We got you!!’” Faison said.