This school year at St. Louis U. High is the first to feature a revamped approach to the school’s Presidential Scholarship program, which now aims to reward students in need of financial aid for their excellent showings in both academics and extracurricular involvement.
Though a Presidential Scholarship program has existed at SLUH for years, this current school year features the debut of a reworked approach to the program. Typically, Presidential Scholarships are funded by donors—nearly all of whom are anonymous alumni—who pledge a sum of $1 million to SLUH, which is then used for the betterment of the school’s financial aid program. The hefty sum includes paying the full tuition of at least three Jr. Bills who meet the respective scholarship’s requirements and criteria. The Presidential Scholarship program is made up of four different scholarships, each awarded to three deserving students.
“When the Presidential Scholarship is established, we work with the donor to develop the criteria,” said Director of Leadership Giving Linda Domeyer. “It is normally something that they are pretty passionate about.”
Early in the process of the establishment of the scholarship, donors worked with the administration to outline a set of hallmarks that a prospective recipient should achieve. The St. Louis Scholarship, for example, seeks to preserve the geographic diversity of SLUH by awarding three students from around the St. Louis area with a scholarship that acknowledges their ambassadorship of SLUH in their local community, and vice versa.
Another scholarship, the Sheridan Scholarship, seeks to reward three graduates of Loyola Academy—a Jesuit middle school founded by former SLUH President Fr. Paul Sheridan, SJ, for underserved students in the city of St. Louis—who have continued their exemplary academic records at SLUH.
This past May, financial aid-eligible members of the classes of 2022, 2023, and 2024 were invited to apply for any of four Presidential Scholarships—the Heritage Scholarship, the Steward Family Scholarship (designated for students of color with exceptional academic records), the Sheridan Scholarship, and the St. Louis Scholarship. Applications were reviewed over the summer, and the finalists and their families were notified of the administration’s decision by the end of July.
In addition to the financial benefits provided by the scholarships, student recipients also receive, among other things, the ability to step into the role of Presidential Ambassador at events such as class reunions and to represent their respective classes at various SLUH events. Awardees also receive the opportunity to meet the donor who has chosen to fund their scholarship.
Already, winners of the scholarship have begun their service to SLUH as Presidential Ambassadors.
“On (this past) Saturday, I was able to work at the Class of 1970 reunion as a greeter,” said junior Alex Preusser, who was awarded the Heritage Scholarship based on his commitment to continue the legacy of financial aid at SLUH. “I am really looking forward to more of these events and just helping more people be exposed to the great environment that we have here at SLUH.”
With the new scholarship program having had a successful rollout, hopes among members of the administration are that more alumni can emerge to fund the creation of different scholarships, which—in addition to rewarding a group of students for their academic performance—will help SLUH move closer to realizing its goal of providing tuition-free services for all students.
“Finding the donors is a process of discovery, where we learn that a donor is passionate about giving back to the school and providing ways for opportunity in education,” said Domeyer. “Almost always, these donors were recipients of financial aid themselves. And we just began the conversation with them, and we’ve discovered that it’s important for (the donors) that they can make this opportunity available.”
In addition to the Presidential Scholarships, incoming freshmen, beginning with the Class of 2024, are also eligible to earn merit-based scholarships based on their performance on the High School Placement Test (HSPT), which all applicants take as a part of the admissions process. Incoming freshmen are eligible to receive one of two scholarships—the Fr. Gerry Sheehan Scholarship, which rewards HSPT scores in the 95th percentile and above with money off tuition, and the Fr. Claude Heithaus Scholarship, awarded to incoming black and minority applicants who also achieve high HSPT scores.
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