The University of Nebraska today kicked off its first-ever Collegebound Nebraska Week.
The week is a coordinated effort to raise awareness about the financial aid program so that more qualifying students can take advantage of the opportunity to attend one of the four NU campuses and pay no tuition.
NU President James B. Milliken was joined by Gov. Dave Heineman at the kickoff event, where the Governor officially proclaimed this week Collegebound Nebraska Week.
Milliken noted that the number of NU students qualifying for Collegebound Nebraska increased seven percent in the past year, to 6,655 in 2011 to 2012. The university hopes to grow that number and has enlisted a number of former Husker stars, including Olympic volleyball medalist Jordan Larson and Super Bowl champion Prince Amukamara, to help in its efforts.
"Follow your dreams. I dreamed big when I was a kid and I wanted to play in college and I wanted to go to school, and I think if you have big goals, you'll find the right fit for you," Larson says in a new YouTube video featuring her talking about the importance of college.
"Collegebound Nebraska is a great program for kids that maybe didn't think they were able to go to college," Larson says.
Milliken said, "Collegebound Nebraska helps the university meet one of its most important obligations: that we will continue to provide affordable access for Nebraska students and families. I am very pleased to have some of our outstanding alumni, including Jordan Larson and Prince Amukamara, serving as spokespeople for Collegebound Nebraska. They will bring an additional level of visibility to this important program and will help make more Nebraskans aware of the tremendous opportunity it provides."
About a dozen Collegebound Nebraska student ambassadors, representing all four campuses, also are helping to promote the program to their peers and prospective students.
Governor Heineman said, "The Collegebound Nebraska program will ensure more Nebraska students have access to the tools they need to make higher education a reality, and that's great news for our state. Providing our students with the best education possible is essential to Nebraska's future."
The university plans a number of activities this week, including high school visits by several NU chancellors, social media promotion, and events for Collegebound Nebraska scholars on the campuses. The university also mailed Collegebound Nebraska packets, including informational brochures and posters featuring Larson and Amukamara, to Nebraska high schools. The packets also include a suggested Collegebound Nebraska "curriculum" for guidance counselors and teachers to use that features daily tips on the college planning process.
Increasing the number of students who graduate from high school, go on to college and earn a degree is a high priority for Nebraska.
Milliken noted that research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that by 2018, 63 percent of all jobs in the United States will require education beyond high school and the demand is similar in Nebraska. Growing educational attainment in the state is a key goal of Nebraska's P-16 Initiative, which is chaired by Governor Heineman.
Collegebound Nebraska guarantees that any Nebraska undergraduate who qualifies for a federal Pell Grant and meets NU's admission requirements can attend the university and pay no tuition. Generally, a student from a family of four with one in college and an income of about $53,000 or less will qualify.
A student must maintain a 2.5 grade point average to remain eligible for the program.
Collegebound Nebraska covers all of a student's tuition costs, up to 30 credit hours per academic year, that are not covered by Pell funds or other grants or scholarships. To qualify for Collegebound Nebraska, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by April 1 each year. No separate application is required.