By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published May 27, 2010
While a public appeal continues trying to raise $6 million by June 30 so that Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville can reopen, many undergraduates there have applied to other colleges, several of which have stepped forward to help students with transfers and financial aid.
Among the colleges are Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, and Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla.
Franciscan University expects to enroll 16 to 18 transfer students from Southern Catholic College this fall, said Margaret J. Weber, director of admissions at Franciscan University. The two schools have had a close working relationship since SCC opened, she said, and SCC academic credits were always accepted by Franciscan University if students chose to transfer there.
“We are definitely standing by these students now. Through no fault of their own, they have been caught in a very unfortunate situation,” Weber said.
Franciscan University “wanted them to know that we could be a viable option for them not only academically but also because of our strong faith environment and Catholic culture.”
Franciscan University took part in an April 12 event in Dawsonville where various colleges talked to SCC students about options. The university subsequently hosted two overnight visiting days at Steubenville for SCC students to tour the campus, meet undergraduates, attend classes and receive information about courses of study and aid.
Each student was offered a “generous financial aid package,” she said, including an across-the-board discount and then need-based and merit-based aid.
“These students from Southern Catholic are some of the most grateful and appreciative students I have ever met,” she said. “They are a close-knit group and have formed strong ties with each other. … I have no doubt these students will feel very much at home here.”
At Ave Maria University, Deacon Forrest Wallace said that about 80 Southern Catholic College students have applied for admission.
However, he said, the university won’t be certain until August how many will enroll, based upon the financial aid Ave Maria was able to offer, which varies from student to student.
“We provide as much financial assistance as we can, but obviously we can’t satisfy every need that’s out there,” Deacon Wallace said.
“We hope to see as many of them here as can be here. We will welcome them with open arms,” he said.
The deacon, who serves in public relations and marketing at Ave Maria, also a recently opened Catholic university, said all academic institutions are feeling the economic effects of losses in endowments and other market-based funds and also seeing families having to alter plans on where their children go to school due to finances.
“During this economic climate, all schools are facing serious economic challenges, all of us. It is not just the small Catholic schools, it is schools across the board,” he said.