Some students from Cleveland Metropolitan and East Cleveland school districts may get the chance to attend Case Western Reserve University for free. 

Tuition, fees, books, personal expenses and on-campus housing will be covered for eligible graduates from those districts accepted to the University Circle institution, according to a news release out Sept. 13. Plus, students will also get a paid internship or research opportunity with a mentor. 

It’s an expansion of the university’s “Cleveland Scholars” program. Launched in 2017, that partnership previously promised to cover full tuition at a minimum. The need for student loans is now eliminated under this effort, officials said. 

The average net price at the private university, after aid packages were factored in, came in at $37,702 for the 2020-21 academic year, data from the U.S. Department of Education shows. That includes things like tuition and the weighted average for room and board fees.

“Cost will not keep these terrific students from attending Case Western Reserve,” CWRU President Eric Kaler said in the release. “We are committed to our community, and committed to these promising students. We want them to have every opportunity to thrive on our campus.”

Requirements to note

Students can be accepted to the program if they’ve spent the last two years of their high school career at a CMSD or East Cleveland school. They also have to be admitted to the university and commit to living on campus for their first two years. 

That’s a different requirement than Cleveland’s “Say Yes to Education” chapter. Students must be enrolled in a CMSD high school for all four years, among other requirements, to be eligible for that college promise program. And Say Yes funding only goes towards tuition, not any other education-related expenses. 

Say Yes, in fact, is listed as a key partner for this expanded push at Case Western Reserve. So are College Now Greater Cleveland and the John Huntington Fund for Education. 

Nearly 50 Say Yes-eligible graduates have gone on to Case Western Reserve since the program launched four years ago, according to figures provided to Signal Cleveland. Fourteen of them enrolled last fall. More than 1,500 students in total made up CWRU’s first-year undergraduate class in 2022. 

The release also highlighted similar initiatives the university participates in on a national scale. That includes their partnership with the Posse Foundation. Participants there take part in “pre-collegiate training” sessions during the last few months of their senior year of high school.

CMSD is “thrilled”

This “Cleveland Scholars” initiative at Case Western Reserve doesn’t explicitly highlight any support offerings like that, at least according to the latest release. But figuring out how Cleveland’s students can successfully navigate post-high school life is already top of mind for the district’s new CEO, Warren Morgan. 

“Everyone has the goal that we want our kids to do something great after high school,” he told Signal Cleveland in an interview last month. “But how we get there, sometimes, is a little nuanced.” 

Morgan applauded his district’s expanded partnership with CWRU’s in Wednesday’s statement, saying officials are “thrilled.”

“The decision represents an extraordinary act of generosity that will make a difference in the lives of deserving CMSD students,” Morgan said in the release. “The fact that some of our most talented graduates will now have extra incentive to continue their education at one of America’s leading universities will pay immediate dividends to CWRU and all of Northeast Ohio.”

Amy Morona covers higher education for Signal Cleveland, in partnership with Open Campus.

Higher education reporter for Signal Cleveland in partnership with Open Campus.