When we launched our historic fundraising campaign last year, one priority was at the forefront: ensuring that UNH is affordable and accessible for all qualified students, especially those from New Hampshire. In fact, scholarship support—merit scholarships for our best and brightest high school graduates and need-based scholarships for those who require financial assistance to attend college—has been the theme of virtually every conversation I’ve had with donors about the importance of CELEBRATE 150: The Campaign for UNH. And because those donors responded so generously, we recently were able to launch a bold financial aid initiative that reflects the tremendous compassion of our alumni: the Granite Guarantee.
This new program guarantees that all full-time, first-year New Hampshire students receiving federal Pell grants will pay no tuition to attend UNH. The Granite Guarantee will bridge the gap between a Pell grant recipient’s total federal and state aid and the cost of in-state tuition. UNH makes every effort to meet students’ demonstrated need with financial aid. But the fact is, it is not always possible, and there are students for whom the gap between their total aid package and the cost of tuition can mean the difference between being able to come to UNH, and not.
This fall, we expect the Granite Guarantee will help about 285 first-year New Hampshire students on the Durham and Manchester campuses. These students will automatically receive the Granite Guarantee, and the commitment will remain in place for four years, provided they are enrolled full-time, remain Pell-eligible and make satisfactory progress toward their degrees. We hope in future years to expand this program beyond first-time freshmen, although that is dependent on continued robust fundraising and increased state support.
As a first-generation college student myself, access and affordability are both very important and personal for me. With 25 percent of Wildcats being the first in their family to go to college, and 57 percent receiving financial aid, our need for public/private support goes beyond these Pell-eligible members of the class of 2021. There is plenty more work to do. But the Granite Guarantee is a significant achievement toward our goal of making a UNH education attainable to every student who wants one. It represents the very heart and soul of our $275 million campaign. This program is true philanthropy in action, and I know I speak for the entire university when I express my deepest gratitude to the many alumni and friends who made this new initiative possible.
UNH President Mark W. Huddleston
Originally published in UNH Magazine Spring 2017 Issue