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Grants to lure top grad students
by Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu
March 28, 1997
In a bid to draw high-caliber graduate students from around the country, UConn will offer tuition grants to a small number of out-of-state masters degree students entering in the fall.
In each of the next four years, 20 two-year grants will be targeted to professional master's degree programs whose students generally do not continue to the doctoral level and for whom graduate assistantships are not available.
"This is a way of attracting really outstanding students to master's degree programs that don't offer financial assistance," said Jim Henkel, associate dean of the graduate school, which will administer the grants.
Doctoral programs that offer financial assistance for graduate students can recruit nationally and internationally, but it is difficult to attract out-of-state students to the professional master's degree programs because the tuition is so high for them, Henkel said.
"The gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition has grown over the years as money gets tighter and state support dwindles," he said. The new grants will cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, almost $8,000 a year.
Other state universities, such as the universities of Virginia and North Carolina, attract top students by keeping out-of-state tuition low, and UConn must do something similar in order to compete, Henkel said.
Recruiting highly qualified people
from beyond Connecticut will benefit other students too: "If
we can get the best and brightest students here by saying we will
give you in-state tuition, we will improve the quality of the
class," he said. Aiming at diversity
The grant program for master's degree students is modeled after a similar program, launched a year ago, to attract top undergraduate students from out-of-state. The University offers a limited number of partial scholarships to out-of-state undergraduates but this is the first time scholarships have been offered that effectively allow out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition.
The program already is proving effective. Seventeen of this year's freshmen - from states as far afield as Iowa, Illinois and Texas - are receiving four-year grants, known as presidential scholarships, that reduce the out-of-state tuition by $8,000 a year to the equivalent of in-state rates.
The scholarships have increased the percentage of out-of-state students offered admission who actually enroll here. In fall 1995, 15.2 percent of those offered admission enrolled; this year, the percentage increased to 17.5 percent.
Among out-of-state students offered presidential scholarships, the yield was 22.3 percent.
"This is an extremely talented group academically," said John Kolano, associate director of admissions. "Ordinarily we would hardly get any of these students if we were just offering admission."
Judith Meyer, interim vice provost for undergraduate education, said the goal is to offer up to 100 grants a year to out-of-state undergraduates within the next few years. The grant programs for out-of-state students are part of a larger strategy to attract the highest quality students, she said.
Meyer emphasizes that the new grants for undergraduate and graduate students from outside the state are for programs that have extra capacity and won't take away places from Connecticut students.
Nor will any state money be used to support the grants. The costs of the program will come from tuition funds. In addition, although the students will not pay the full out-of-state rates, the University will receive tuition from them that it would not otherwise receive.
Students offered the grants will "enrich the environment" of the University," Meyer said. "This is a small state that's relatively homogeneous.
Having the diversity that out-of-state students bring enhances the quality of the program and is an important part of the learning experience."
The program has the potential to benefit the state as well, because many students find jobs in Connecticut where they graduate. Connecticut has one of the highest rates in the country of high school graduates leaving the state to study elsewhere.
"We hope to attract some of the very best students and we hope to keep them here," Meyer said. "If we do it right, we may be able to counteract some of the brain drain out of the state."