Lehigh commits to meeting 100 percent of all students’ demonstrated financial need

Affirming its commitment to making a Lehigh education available to students of all financial backgrounds, Lehigh has announced a new financial aid initiative that will see the university meet 100 percent of every student’s demonstrated financial need.  The initiative, which was recently approved by the university’s Board of Trustees, will place Lehigh among a select group of institutions that have similar programs in place.

Through this commitment, the university will leverage a combination of scholarships, grants, work study and loans to fill the gap between the cost of attendance and the calculated expected family contribution.  Additionally, Lehigh will cap loans included in a student’s Lehigh financial aid package for all students with need, at a maximum of $5,000 per year.  Some students choose to take out additional student loans outside of their Lehigh financial aid package, and those loans are not included in this cap. 

Brad E. Scheler, '74, '05P, '08P, '09PG, chair of the Lehigh Board of Trustees, called the financial aid program a “bold and further step on our continuing and unwavering path forward in expanding opportunity to the brightest students,” regardless of their financial background.

“At Lehigh, we seek the best students—those who will benefit from the caliber of a Lehigh education, and, in doing so, will also enrich the intellectual vitality of the campus,” Scheler said. “This represents not only an investment in the lives of many promising young men and women, but an investment in Lehigh itself.”

Lehigh President John Simon said, “We believe in the enormous potential of this university, and we believe, too, in the enormous potential of our students—both those currently with us, and those who will join the Lehigh community in the years to come. Our commitment to meeting 100 percent of every student’s demonstrated financial need will allow us to open our doors more fully to talented students from all backgrounds and will, by extension, help us build a stronger Lehigh.”

The program will go into effect starting with the 2016-2017 academic year and will impact not only new students but current Lehigh students as well.

The $5,000 annual cap on student loans will ensure that no Lehigh student, starting with the 2016-2017 enrolling class, will leave the university with more than $20,000 in student loan debt used to meet their calculated financial need from their Lehigh financial aid package.  The university currently caps loans to meet financial needs for students whose families’ calculated annual income is between $75,000 and $150,000 at $2,000 per year.  For families with annual incomes of less than $75,000, loans to meet need are eliminated. 

“At Lehigh we take very seriously the concerns that students and their families have about the financing of higher education,” said J. Leon Washington, vice provost for admissions and financial aid. “Capping our loans is a huge step forward in addressing those concerns.”

Lehigh currently allocates about $74 million each year to financial aid.  Eighty percent of those funds is used for need-based aid, while 13 percent is used for athletic scholarship.  An additional 7 percent supports merit-based grants.  More than 50 percent of Lehigh students currently receive some form of financial aid.

“It has always been our philosophy that any student who visits or interacts with Lehigh should believe that a Lehigh education is within their reach,” Washington said. “We are proud that this new commitment will cement that philosophy into our admissions processes well into the future.”

Visit Lehigh’s financial aid page [lehigh.edu/financialaid] to learn more.