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Franciscan University to cover fall 2020 tuition costs for incoming students

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by Jonah McKeown

Denver Newsroom, Apr 23, 2020 / 07:00 pm MT (CNA).- Franciscan University of Steubenville will be covering tuition costs for all incoming freshmen and transfer students in fall 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

President Father Dave Pivonka announced April 21 that the university would cover the remainder of incoming full-time undergraduates’ tuition costs, after scholarships and grants.

“We’ve heard from many students whose concerns over the pandemic are making the decision to leave home for college more difficult. Also, many families and students have seen their ability to pay for college evaporate due to the economic impact of the coronavirus,” Pivonka told CNA.

“We hope this unique response will help them to overcome these obstacles and uncertainties and step out in faith with us.”

Joel Recznik, Franciscan’s vice president for enrollment, told CNA that barring unforeseen circumstances, such as a second wave of the pandemic, the university is anticipating full enrollment and normal university operations in the fall.

The Ohio university uses a rolling admissions process throughout the year, and thus numbers may change as more students apply or enroll throughout the summer, he said.

“The idea was to really provide an opportunity for these new students— who are uncertain and their lives have been turned upside down— that they wouldn’t miss out because of the negative impact of this virus,” Recznik told CNA.

“We’ve talked to families who the parents have lost their jobs, and talked to people who have had the virus, and we don’t want that to be a barrier…So for every new student, we’re making sure that we cover 100% of tuition after scholarships and grants for the fall semester.”

The funds to cover the tuition costs will come from the university’s reserves. The university will be providing an additional $1,000 for returning undergraduates and $500 for graduating seniors.

Father Pivonka noted that although the additional financial assistance will be provided to all students regardless of their ability to pay, he encouraged those who are able to donate to the Step in Faith Fund to help to finance the aid.

“Our patron, St. Francis of Assisi, had a deep concern for those in need, and as a Franciscan university, we seek to follow his example in caring for those entrusted to us. While we always strive to keep our tuition affordable, we decided we needed to do more in light of the severe difficulties so many are facing this year,” he said.

Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. are two Catholic universities that have extended their application deadlines to June 1. Representatives for both schools told CNA that they, like Franciscan, are not anticipating a major drop in enrollment at this time.

Steve Johnson, a spokesman for Benedictine College, told CNA that before the pandemic, the university was expecting a record freshman class and record enrollment.

“Benedictine College was having the best recruiting year in history heading into March and our numbers have remained strong to this point,” Johnson told CNA in an email.

“So far we’re not seeing anyone falling off and we are anticipating opening in August with face-to-face classes as close to normal as possible…We are not expecting any major drop in enrollment.”

Christopher Lydon, who oversees enrollment at the Catholic University of America, told CNA that student registration for the fall semester has progressed in line with what he would normally expect to see.

“That’s obviously a good sign, that we’re not seeing the beginning of an exodus,” Lydon said.

Lydon did see that graduating high school seniors do seem to be deferring college decisions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are behind on deposits, but we’ve also given families an additional month to make an enrollment decision,” Lydon told CNA.

“I’m appropriately worried, but it is a little soon to know for certain.”

The Portiuncula Chapel on the campus of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Credit: Robert Pernett via Flickr
The Portiuncula Chapel on the campus of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Credit: Robert Pernett via Flickr
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