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$1 Million Grant to Support Adult Students

Osher Foundation grant will help adult students resuming their educations

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September 13, 2012 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Bernard Osher Foundation has awarded Northwestern University a $1 million endowed gift to aid adult students resuming their educations. The foundation has also awarded a $50,000 bridge grant for scholarships to be awarded in the 2012–13 academic year. 

Of the nearly 9,500 Northwestern undergraduate students who enrolled last fall, 682 are between the ages of 25 and 49. Northwestern’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS) will award a minimum of 10 scholarships annually, worth up to $5,000 a piece, through the Osher Reentry Scholars Program.

The endowed gift was awarded to Northwestern after the School of Continuing Studies demonstrated the impact of four previous $50,000 grants that the foundation has provided annually since 2008. 

“Adult students -- particularly those who have taken time off -- face numerous challenges as they pursue their education,” said Timothy Gordon, associate dean for Student and Alumni Services at Northwestern’s School of Continuing Studies.

These nontraditional scholars “work full time and often must juggle multiple priorities such as raising children, caring for an aging parent or ailing spouse, and dealing with uncertainty in the job market,” he said.

Older students are often less likely to receive federal aid, which can lead to longer workdays that impacts their studies, Gordon added. 

New and continuing SCS students are eligible for the tuition scholarships. Preferred applicants are:

•  Between the ages of 25 and 50

•  Seeking their first baccalaureate degree

•  Have a five-year or more gap in their higher education history

•  In financial need

Bernard Osher was a founding director of the World Savings Bank, which later merged with Wachovia, now Wells Fargo. A champion of higher education, he launched his San Francisco-based foundation in 1977 in support of lifelong learning. 

The Osher Reentry Scholarship Program provides scholarships to first-time degree-seekers pursuing education after a significant absence from the classroom. Northwestern is among nearly 90 colleges and universities nationwide to benefit from this program.

The Osher Foundation has subsidized SCS’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) since 2005, presenting a $1 million endowment in 2009. The former Institute for Learning in Retirement, founded in 1987, offers an array of lively, peer-led study groups on the Chicago and Evanston campuses for veteran scholars. The bastion of adult learning is celebrating its 25th anniversary at Northwestern this year.

Topics: University