Higher ed options expand with UPS aid package

For many college-bound students, getting out of town – and maybe even out of state – is one goal when considering schools.

But many others want to stick close to home, for any number of reasons. For Tacoma’s students of modest means, that’s meant trying to go to one of the community colleges in the South Sound or, in recent years, the University of Washington Tacoma. Some have even been able to get one of the five full-ride scholarships offered by Pacific Lutheran University annually through its urban leadership program for Pierce and King county students.

Now their options have just gotten better. The University of Puget Sound wants Tacoma public high school graduates to know that they should also consider UPS, because the financial cost of attending ($57,908 annually) might not be out of reach.

That’s because the 125-year-old institution is offering a new financial aid package designed to bring more Tacoma students to the campus beginning in the 2015-16 academic year.

The package, which takes family circumstances and income into account, includes not only direct aid from the university but also scholarships, grants, loans and work study.

That aid initiative dovetails nicely with Tacoma Public Schools’ emphasis on graduation with an eye toward higher education. Giving students one more affordability option increases the chances that they’ll aspire to getting at least a bacholor’s degree.

The community has a stake in increasing local access to higher education; many graduates stay in the area where they went to college, contributing to its civic life. Increasing the percentage of college-educated citizens makes the community a better place.

It’s good for UPS, too. About 80 percent of its students now come from outside Washington; only about 2 percent graduated from a Tacoma public school. Having more Loggers with local ties is a healthy move for both the community and the university.