By Howard Packowitz
BLOOMINGTON – Illinois Wesleyan University is creating scholarships to entice McLean County’s best and brightest high school graduates to stay close to home.
In doing so, the private college is competing for students with the community’s much larger public institution, Illinois State University.
The McLean County Scholarship guarantees area high school grads admitted to IWU will receive at least $27,000 a year, or $108,000 over four years.
For local students, that slashes annual tuition from $47,000 to $20,000. close to what it costs to attend ISU.
Willie Brown is leading the four year effort to raise two million dollars for the scholarship in his role as President of Illinois Wesleyan Associates, a group of business and community leaders.
“If you come to Illinois Wesleyan and you’re from McLean County, what we’re going to do is help you attend an outstanding university, get an outstanding education, and then on top of that, maybe you’ll choose to stay here like many of you and either start your careers here or start your businesses here,” Brown said.
IWU President Eric Jensen said the program helps meet two of the school’s highest strategic priorities.
“Increasing financial support for admitted Illinois Wesleyan applicants and increasing enrollment. We also see this as an opportunity to invest in the health and vitality of our local and state economy,” said Jensen.
Seniors from 13 McLean County high schools are eligible for the scholarship; Bloomington, Central Catholic, Normal Community, Normal West, University High School, Olympia, Ridgeview, Tri-Valley, LeRoy, Lexington, Heyworth, Calvary Christian, and Cornerstone Christian Academy.
Jensen said McLean County students make up about seven percent of the IWU’s student body. He expects ten students will receive the scholarship for the next school year.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at email@example.com