ALMA — “You can afford an Alma education,” admissions counselors at Alma College are telling prospective students, following a revamp of the college’s slate of scholarship offerings that rolled out this fall.

With focuses on making college more affordable for a wider range of first-year and transfer students, and simplifying the financial aspect of college for every student, staffers hope the new scholarship structure will persuade students to consider Alma College among their many available options when making their college choices.

“For us, this is a significant change, something designed to offer more value to students with a greater range of opportunities for them to save money,” said Michelle McNier, director of financial aid. “While we have not changed our admissions criteria, we know that excellent students are coming into college with a wide range of GPAs, and we want to show them that cost won’t get in the way of their futures.”

Alma has increased the number of scholarship tiers it awards, and the maximum amount of money that students can receive on the basis of merit from four to six. Previously, students could receive between $23,000 and $27,000 for coming into college with GPAs between 2.75 and 4.0; that range is now $23,000 and $32,000. New scholarship tiers have been created for students with GPAs between 3.0 and 3.24; and 3.75 to 3.99.

Another big change to the scholarship structure comes with the Alma Mission Award, which is intended for students of backgrounds and communities that have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, those with disabilities, geographic location, active military individuals and their dependents. Even more support is available for those who wish to major in nursing and education, due to the statewide shortage of workers in those industries.

The Alma Mission Award is given at the discretion of admissions and financial aid staff, primarily based on information disclosed during the application and financial aid process.

According to Katie Yourchock, senior director of financial aid and enrollment operations, these awards were typically given one-by-one: for example, a student could receive individual grants based on their race and geographic location. By rolling these individual grants into one award, Yourchock said, the process should be much simpler for students and their families to follow.

“We’re well aware that students are looking at other colleges besides Alma, so it’s our goal to stand out in every way that we can,” Yourchock said. “If we can stand out by offering a simplified admissions process and a generous range of merit scholarships, we’re going to recruit a wide range of wonderful students.”

The college still offers a variety of scholarships based on student actions; including the Early Action Scholarship, for students who complete their applications by Nov. 15, 2022, and the Scottish Hospitality Scholarship, for students who visit campus. These scholarships are considered “stackable,” meaning they can be paired with merit-based scholarships and other award opportunities.

Every student is encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to receive federal and state assistance. The FAFSA Filing Scholarship ($1,000) is given to every student who files FAFSA by March 1, 2023.

“What we hope to do is be very upfront with students about what they’re getting from Alma College,” Yourchock said. “We want you to choose to come to Alma College and in order for you to make that choice, we need to give you as much information as we can, as early as we can, so that you can make the best-informed decision.”

Other popular programs are remaining in place as well. The Alma College Community Engagement (ACE) scholar program, which gives full-tuition awards to exemplary high school students in Gratiot, Montcalm and Isabella counties, is returning for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. Alma College is continuing to not require first-year students to submit an SAT or ACT test score, in order to remove barriers to higher education.

After aid is applied, Alma College student costs will average $24,700 per year for tuition, room and board. The four-year state college/university average for in-state students is $27,500 per year, according to 2020-21 statistics from the Integrated Post-Secondary Data System. Last year, Alma College awarded more than $37 million in institutional aid and 100 percent of its students received some type of financial assistance.

Students who are interested in speaking with a member of the admissions and financial aid teams should email or call 800-321-ALMA.