For elite students, education is free at Cheyney University

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THORNBURY—Upper Darby’s Rachel Ezeamaka is headed as a first-year student to Cheyney University and she won’t have to deal with the major burden of having to pick up the tab for her education. The prospective Pre-Med Biology Major who hopes to become a physician is getting a free ride through undergrad school at Cheyney and then through med school.


Like any incoming freshman, she is thrilled. “I’ll be fine,” said the Arch Bishop John Carroll High School graduate. “I’m so excited to meet friends and have a new life. “It’s a really good offer and you can’t beat it.”


Ezeamaka was offered $4.7 million in scholarships overall and chose Cheyney, which is the nation’s oldest historically black college. She saw her late father deal with almost $200,000 in student debt. If she maintains a 3.0 grade point average, she should graduate debt free.


Since the July 1 state budget was adopted, $3.98 million will go to the Keystone Honors Academy to provide scholarships for elite Cheyney students. The amount, which also includes funding from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency marks a substantial increase over last year’s $2.3 million allocation, reads a university release.


Jeffrey Jones, executive director of enrollment management, said that so far 74 students are enrolled in the program. Cheyney is on the rebound with a new president, former businessman Aaron Walton, who expects to balance the books this year. Cheyney attendance had slumped to fewer than 500 students and the university was operating in the red.


Jones said the university was always a little hesitant to go after the finest students, but said that this year’s class is “literally off the charts.” The typical Keystone recipient has a GPA of 3.58 and an SAT score of 1110, Jones said. Walton said through a press release that he expects the budget to balance and for enrollment to increase.


An upcoming decision by the Middle State Commission on Higher Education will determine whether the school will maintain accreditation. Money has been a major issue. Walton has also said that he believes the university will meet its goal of a balanced budget for the just-ended fiscal year.


“This very generous allocation will enhance our ability to continue to attract high performing students,” said Walton. “The scholarship funding comes at a great time with the university enjoying a resurgence in academics, culture and support.  “Now we’ll be able to work through the waiting list of students who committed to attending Cheyney and who will benefit from the full scholarship,” Walton noted. “We’ll also be able to recruit additional highly qualified students.”

“This additional funding will enable us to award scholarships to our high-ability continuing students who qualified as they entered Cheyney, but were unable to receive scholarships due to the lack of sufficient funding,” Jones said. “This increase will make a huge difference.”  “The scholarship funding for the new fiscal year has no bearing on Cheyney’s previously stated commitment to record a balanced budget in the just completed fiscal year,” reads the release. “Walton remains optimistic that when those numbers are reconciled over the next several weeks, the university will have met its financial goals.”


Bill Rettew
@wcdailylocal on Twitter
[email protected]

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