free tuition graphic
There’s a new MU Financial Aid plan in place to eliminate tuition costs for students who meet certain criteria.
Graphic provided by TJ Whitmer

Manchester Eliminates Tuition Costs for Low-Income Students

TJ Whitmer

Manchester University is eliminating tuition costs for Indiana undergrad students whose families make under $65,000. Many students believe it is free tuition, but it is not free at all.

The 2020-2021 school year saw over 100 students benefit from the Spartan 2020 Response Program due to Covid-19. These programs are not “free tuition”; rather, they give financial aid to those students that meet the requirements.

Eliminating tuition costs for the 2021-2022 school year comes from the Indiana Tuition Bridge Program. Ryon Kaopuiki, vice president for Enrollment and Marketing, was one of the many that helped with the new program.

Eligibility requirements for the Tuition Bridge Program were finalized by the MU administration after consulting with the admissions staff and student financial services staff. Requirements include being an Indiana resident, applying and being accepted to MU, having an adjusted gross income of $65,000, being eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, completing the FAFSA, and living on campus.

Students still have to pay for their tuition, but it can be paid through using other methods. “The combination of their (students) federal and state grants, along with institutional financial aid (scholarships and grants) from Manchester, covers their out-of-pocket tuition expenses,” Kaopuiki said. “The institutional aid bridges the gap.”

State grants are only provided to those students that reside in their specific state. If an out-of-state student wants to bring a state grant with them to MU, the student would not be able to unless they went to a school within their own state.

Many low-income students and families will utilize this program as they know the next four years will be covered entirely. Dave McFadden, president of Manchester University, says it is a win-win for the school and families.

“They will know throughout the time they are considering Manchester that their tuition is covered,” McFadden said. “Manchester benefits as well, because these students are more likely to keep us on their list and end up enrolling.”

For students that are upperclassmen and want to have their tuition paid in full like the incoming first years already have many financial benefits. “We adjust our financial aid and scholarships every year,” McFadden said. “One of our goals is to have our aid as predictable as possible, so when we make changes, we don’t add or take away financial aid from current students.”

Incoming first years that receive academic scholarships and other state or federal grants are not able to move around money to cover their room and board and other costs. The Presidential Scholarship, the largest amount of financial aid, is a part of the institutional aid which helps bridge the gap of the tuition cost. “Every student’s financial situation is unique,” Kaopuiki said. “I encourage incoming students to discuss what’s possible with their MU admissions counselor and current students to check with Student Financial Services.”

The money that is covering the rest of students’ tuition comes from the budget for financial aid. “It’s a complicated formula,” McFadden said. “At the end of the day we expect that higher enrollment will offset the additional expense."