New "SLV Promise Award" will assist low-income Adams State students


"The top priority of Adams State University is to make education accessible, which means keeping it affordable," said President David Svaldi in announcing the SLV Promise Award, which will cover full tuition and fees for qualified students.

The award will be available to qualified graduates of all high schools in the San Luis Valley, as well as Buena Vista, Salida, Walsenberg, La Veta, and Pagosa Springs. It applies to continuing Adams State students, as well as incoming freshmen.

To be eligible, students must have a minimum Admissions Index of 80 and qualify for a full federal Pell Grant, with Zero Expected Family Contribution. The SLV Promise Award guarantees all qualified low-income students from the San Luis Valley region will receive sufficient financial aid -- grants, not loans -- to cover the entire cost of their tuition and fees, plus $1,350 for incidental educational expenses, beginning with the regular 2013-14 academic year

From left: ASU freshman Eric Velasquez, Associate Director of Admissions Michelle Romero, ASU President David Svaldi, Alamosa HS GEAR-UP counselor Liz Tabeling-Garcia, and AHS GEAR-UP student Gaspar Lucas.

The SLV Promise Award will use institutional funds to supplement students' Pell and Colorado Student Grant awards. Bill Mansheim, Adams State vice president for Finance and Governmental Relations, noted the university awards a total of $5 million in institutional aid annually.

Svaldi explained college and university tuition across the country has increased in recent years, to compensate for state funding cuts. The situation was compounded last year by stricter eligibility policies for federal financial aid. Last year, 150 Adams State students lost all Pell grant eligibility.

"Aid is being reduced, while tuition goes up, negatively impacting low and middle-income students," Svaldi said. "For example, a few years ago, a local student who lived at home could pay their entire Adams State tuition and fees if they qualified for the full Pell grant. Next year, the full Pell award will be almost $2,000 short of covering that expense. And because of changes in eligibility, fewer students qualify for the full Pell grant. The SLV Promise Award was designed to fill that gap for the most needy students in Adams State's core service area."

Over the last four years, state budget cuts have reduced Adams State's operating funds by 25 percent - roughly $3.5 million. In addition, Colorado student financial aid dropped by 21 percent since 2008.

About one-third of all Adams State undergraduates are from the San Luis Valley region, noted Dr. Michael Mumper, senior vice president for Enrollment Management and Program Development. The average family adjusted gross income for all Adams State undergraduates is $24,000, and 37 percent of all students are the first generation in their families to attend college.

"Among Hispanic students, nearly half are first generation college students," Mumper said. Hispanic students make up 32 percent of the student body.

One first-generation student who will benefit from the SLV Promise Award is Eric Velasquez, a freshman engineering major from Garcia, Colo. "This will help a lot. Even though I am low income and received other scholarships, I still had to take a loan to cover this year's costs."

Alamosa High School senior Gaspar Lucas is also looking forward to receiving the award. He hopes to major in biology or chemistry at Adams State next year, and eventually pursue a medical career.

SLV Promise Award Criteria

To qualify, new and continuing students must:

  • Be eligible for full Pell Grant: FASFA shows an Expected Family Contribution of Zero
  • Have an admission index of 80 - Adams State's assigned admission index
    An 80 Index Score is equivalent to a 2.4 high school GPA combined with a 19 ACT or 900 composite SAT score. Lower ACT/SAT scores can be combined with higher GPAs in order to reach an 80 Index Score, and vice versa.
  • Have been admitted to ASU and be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (2.0 GPA & 75% completion)
  • Complete their FAFSA by June 1
  • Register for full-time fall classes by July 1
  • Be a graduate of one of the 24 SLV-region high schools:
    Alamosa High School
    Alamosa Open High School
    Antonito High School
    Byron Syring Delta Center
    Centauri High School
    Centennial High School
    Center High School
    Creede High School
    Crestone Charter School
    Del Norte High School
    Horizons Exploratory Academy
    Moffat High School
    Monte Vista High School
    Mountain Valley High School
    Sanford High School
    Sangre de Cristo
    Sargent High School
    Sierra Grande High School
    John Mall High School
    La Veta High School
    Pagosa Springs High School
    Buena Vista High School
    Chaffee County High School
    Salida High School
Students from these schools are also eligible for Grizzly Partner Award, which provides a discounted dorm and meal plan rate worth $3,200 (a 40% discount).

By Julie Waechter