How many CMCers need financial aid? That number has varied over the years, ranging from under 50% of the student population to as much as 60%. Although some of our families can afford the cost of a CMC education, the Imperative was initiated to address the many mid- and lower-income families and their ambitious students who disqualify themselves from CMC eligibility before filling out an application.
With the Imperative, President Chodosh, our Board of Trustees, and our Financial Aid and Development teams are sending a new message to all interested students before that self-disqualification happens: If you want to lead, if you deserve to join CMC’s special program, resources will not be an impediment. The College has prioritized the need to generate new sources of aid and scholarships as part of our commitment to need-blind admission, and meet-all-need financial aid packages for every deserving student regardless of his or her ability to pay.
Our Progress So Far
As President Chodosh announced in his January 2016 welcome message, the College has now surpassed the Imperative's initial $100m goal in pledges and cash commitments. These resources will be used to support our yearly financial aid budget, which includes institutional resources, loans, grants, ROTC funding, and other forms of support.
But these resources will also be used for more than supporting the financial aid budget. In national and global admissions pools, we want to seek out those students with particular interests and provide them with scholarships that include first-year summer experiences tied to their interests, key areas, and themes. We’ve always been renowned for helping students find successful career paths and exciting post-graduation opportunities—this will help us even more.
The College has inaugurated the first groups of first- and second-year students—we refer to these groups as “scholar communities”—with a wide diversity of backgrounds (first-generation Americans, for instance), students with special leadership qualities (as game-changers) or with substantive interests or commitments to specialized areas, such as public policy, human rights, global expertise and experience, etc.).
These scholarship communities are small (5-6 students in each class), and students in each are eligible for a special first summer experience with a minimum stipend of $3,500. Our Career Services Center works with student scholars to determine a transformational summer experience to help them begin the learning and networking that will serve them not only in their careers, but also in their lives.
Thus far, the scholar communities now available as part of The Student Imperative are:
Conte First Generation Scholars
A fund established by financier JP Conte has made it possible for many first-generation American students to realize their undergraduate aspirations at some of the best colleges and universities across the nation.
Dreier Roundtable Scholars
Named for former Congressman David Dreier '75, who served for many years as chair of the U.S. Congressional Ways and Means Committee, Dreier Roundtable Scholars participate in a program designed to give them early exposure to public policy research and decision-making on matters of national controversy.
The establishment of the Kravis Scholars Fund by Henry Kravis '67 provides generous need-based financial aid assistance to deserving and first-generation students who enroll at Claremont McKenna.
Interdisciplinary Science Scholarship (ISS)
Students with a passion for science and leadership are eligible for an Interdisciplinary Science Scholarship. This program is aimed at students interested in exploring a double or dual major that pairs science with a non-science major.
The McKenna Achievement Award is a renewable scholarship given to approximately 15 entering freshmen every year who have the highest academic achievement and significant extracurricular achievements as well as demonstrating sustained commitment, leadership and personal growth.
The Frank Seaver Leadership Scholarship is a renewable full-tuition scholarship given to approximately five entering freshmen every year who demonstrate exceptional promise to become leaders intent on making a positive impact in the world.
Wagener Family Global Scholars
The Global Scholars program provides direct financial support for students who qualify for need-based aid, first-year summer internships, and stipends for students on financial aid to go abroad in the spring semester of their sophomore year to non-English-speaking programs or countries.
The Imperative is hardly more than two years in the making; and yet our community is stepping up to the challenge. Several other funds tied to a variety of professional interests and the aspirational qualities of our students are also under development—we look forward to announcing many of these over the coming months once they've been formalized.
The Imperative's Impact on Our Community
Merit- and need-based aid packages and specialized experiences are certainly not new at CMC or many other institutions in higher education. We have been doing many of these things in the past, but what we've never had was the level of coordination between departments and programs. What the Imperative calls for is a more-coordinated framework to think collectively about how to align philanthropic resources with the full support and development of each and every student, including their financial needs.
The Imperative has also had a profound impact on our internal campus culture. The Imperative has caused our staff and faculty to work more closely together than ever before—a breaking down of those silos that often exist among departments and offices.
While CMC becomes more selective, the Imperative sends an important message to deserving prospective students and their families from all economic backgrounds: that we recognize their situations and want to offer our help.
By increasing the options for affordability, our College benefits by attracting the very best students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and bringing a richer perspective to the leadership experience at CMC.