Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio announced on Tuesday that it will be covering 100 percent of tuition costs for new students enrolling for the fall 2020 semester.
In response to the economic fallout due to the Chinese virus, Franciscan University will cover 100 percent of tuition costs after scholarships and grants for incoming full-time undergraduate students in the fall semester, according to a statement posted to the university’s website.
“As a University, we feel called by God to ease the burden for students, so they can experience the irreplaceable value of a Franciscan University education,” said university president Father Dave Pivonka. “We’ve heard from many students whose concerns over the pandemic are making the decision to leave home for college more difficult.”
“Also, many families and students have seen their ability to pay for college evaporate due to the economic impact of the coronavirus,” added Father Pivonka. “We hope this unique response will help them to overcome these obstacles and uncertainties and step out in faith with us.”
The initiative, entitled, “Step in Faith,” will use some of the university’s reserves to cover tuition costs, and was thought of after Father Pivonka asked his faculty and staff to join him in prayer for “fresh, creative, Holy Spirit-inspired ideas” for responding to the Wuhan coronavirus crisis.
“I must say this is not what I was expecting, but after discernment and discussion, it seemed like an excellent way to provide for new students and their families, many of whom are now hesitant to commit to on-campus higher education,” said Father Pivonka.
“I took it to prayer and ultimately, to our Board of Trustees,” continued Father Pivonka. “The trustees generously responded to this call from God to use our reserves in this unusual way to assist new students and to expand our mission as an academically excellent and passionately Catholic university.”
Father Pivonka added that while he “seriously doubt[s]” the school “will ever do anything like this again,” the decision is still, nonetheless, “the right thing to do.”
The statement added that while tuition costs will be covered after scholarships and grants, students will still be responsible for their fees, housing, and meal plans.
Father Pivonka added that “families for whom tuition payments are not a hardship — as well as other benefactors — have the opportunity to contribute to the Step in Faith Fund.”
“We are committing our resources, but we hope others will join us to make this a sustainable effort,” he added.