Schuler Initiative Update: What does this mean for prospective students?

Lucy Green ’26, Contributing Writer

Bates College is in the process of raising $100 million to enroll students from low-income families across the country in conjunction with Schuler Education. Thus far, the college has raised $39 million, which will be awarded as grants to students in need. Students who are eligible for the federally funded Pell Grant may be awarded these funds to supplement their grants.

Bates became involved with the Schuler Initiative when they were contacted by the Schuler Education Foundation, according to Vice President of Enrollment and Dean of Admission & Financial Aid Leigh Weisenburger. The Schuler Education Foundation was interested in creating an equal access initiative, and Bates was one of the first schools they contacted.  

This grant is one of the largest scholarship-focused initiatives given to a college in Maine. Bates became a partner with the Schuler Education Foundation when it took part in shaping the foundation in 2019.

The Schuler Initiative will allow Bates to enroll more Pell eligible, DACA and low-income students. The Schuler gift will allow Bates to increase the number of Pell-eligible students it enrolls from 10 percent of the student body to 15 percent, which contributes to the overall sense of community for first-generation students. 

“When there’s a greater cohort, everyone tends to thrive,” Weisenburger said. When looking at colleges, an obstacle for prospective high school students can be the cost and how much they are able to spend on a college education. The grants will allow Bates to increase its admission of low income and first generation students by 50 percent.

For prospective students, these funds can be used as a resource for the 10 years after they receive the grant. Bates prides itself on meeting one hundred percent of calculated financial aid on a needs-based basis. Under the Federal Pell Grant Program, each student will be able to receive a maximum grant of $6,495 per year. For many, this grant can be the difference between attending a liberal arts college or not.