Commitment to Delawareans sees fourth year at university
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
This semester marks the beginning of the fourth year the university has offered the Commitment to Delawareans initiative, which gives primary consideration to in-state students’ applications.
Jeff Rivell, deputy director of the Office of Admissions, who has worked at the office since 1986, said 40 percent of the university’s in-state freshmen, sophomores and juniors receive financial assistance through the Commitment to Delawareans program. This amounted to over $10.5 million for this academic year.
In 2011, 88 percent of all Delawareans who applied were admitted to the university while 57 percent of out-of-state applicants were granted admission. For the same year, the average SAT Mathematics scores and Critical Reading scores of admitted freshmen at the university were lower for Delawareans than non-residents, according to the university Office of Institutional Research.
The idea for the program came from Daniel Rich, provost of the university from 2001 to 2009, Rivell said. He said Rich wanted to create an initiative that addressed college preparedness and financial accessibility for Delaware residents. Rich brought the plans for the initiative before the Faculty Senate in 2006 and it was put into effect in 2009.
“The intention was to lay out a roadmap to make sure students in Delaware high schools were taking the appropriate courses,” Rivell said. “The goal was really to make sure that the students were prepared to succeed in their freshman year and really remain students at Delaware and graduate with degrees.”
In order to be considered for the Commitment to Delawareans, students must be residents of the state and have taken four years of English, math and science, two years of history and social studies, three years of the same foreign language and one year of electives, for a total of 20 academic courses, Rivell said.
“We’d really like to see that students perform at a ‘B’ or better because one very good predictor of academic success is their past performance in grades in three and a half to four years,” Rivell said.
He said the program is supported by a combination of federal, state and intuitional funds that are used to help in-state students and families pay for their university.
The state appropriations for the university have declined from $129 million in 2009, when the program began, to $111 million for the 2012 fiscal year.
Junior Chris Quezon, a Delaware resident, said the Commitment to Delawareans program did not impact his decision to come to the university, but he thinks the program is an effective way of getting more in-state residents to stay in Delaware.
“Most people in Delaware try to go to University of Delaware and it would help create more incentive of coming here,” Quezon said. “Some people can’t afford to go out-of-state so they have a place here for cheaper.”
To address the financial accessibility component of the initiative, Rivell said the initiative is set up so no student will have loans in excess of 25 percent of what they would owe to the university. This includes the cost of in-state tuition, fees, a stipend for books and on-campus room and board if they file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by the deadline, he said.
In-state residents are notified of their acceptance into the university before out-of-state students and all Delaware residents who apply by Dec. 1 hear back from the Office of Admissions on a rolling basis, beginning in January, Rivell said. Out-of-state students must wait until mid-March, he said.
Junior Eddie Sangern said he was aware out-of-state students pay more than in-state students but did not know Delaware residents’ applications were considered first. He said he thinks the process should be fair to all people who apply to the university and applicants should have an equal chance of getting in if they are qualified.
“I would hope that the university looks equally at everyone’s applications,” Sangern said. “I guess that’s a little unfair.”
Rivell said the university will continue to provide in-state students access to the initiative for an indefinite period of time, unless something significant changes with the relationship between the university and the state.
“I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but it’s not uncommon for Delaware residents just to look past UD because it is right in their backyard,” Rivell said. “When students start to take classes, get engaged in the school and the community and you sort of scratch the surface it’s really amazing at what an outstanding institution exists right in your backyard.”