‘Financial aid package kind of sealed the deal’

After volunteering at school blood drives, cleaning emergency rooms for free at a local hospital, and being by her mother’s side when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Edinburgh Community High School student Mariah Brown found her passion: nursing.

Brown narrowed her college choices to University of Indianapolis and Indiana University, but UIndy’s nursing program had more options and a bigger financial aid package.

“UIndy is a private college, and I’ve known people who have gone there, and it’s pretty expensive. So I didn’t want to really spend the rest of my life paying off debt, so that was a major factor,” Brown said.

“The financial aid package kind of sealed the deal.”

One year of tuition is more than $25,000, but Brown was able to cut her cost by about $18,500 per year, due in large part to good grades.

When she was in seventh grade, she found out about the 21st Century Scholars program. Students sign a document that says they’ll stay above a 2.5 GPA, and stay drug- and alcohol-free during high school. If she did that, she would receive a chunk of money to help pay her tuition to one of many colleges in Indiana.

The program guarantees the state average for one year’s tuition at college: about $7,500 per year. Brown surpassed the 21st Century Scholar requirements and ending up as the salutatorian for her class with a 3.9962 GPA.

Another $11,000 is taken off her tuition costs every year through the university’s Richard G. Lugar academic recognition award, which is a renewable scholarship. Brown also received a one-time $1,000 scholarship, which was given only to children of breast cancer survivors.

“I kind of took initiative to (fill out scholarships) myself because I knew that I didn’t want (my mom) to spend a lot of money on college, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it,” Brown said.

Brown also plans to save money by living off-campus. Instead of spending about $10,000 in room and board, she will live in an apartment with a high school friend.

The Brown File

Name: Mariah Brown

High School: Edinburgh Community High School

Parents: Andy Brown and Torrie Brown

College: University of Indianapolis

Major: Nursing

GPA: 3.9962

Total cost of tuition for one year at University of Indianapolis: $25,910

How she’ll pay:

  • Richard G. Lugar academic recognition award from University of Indianapolis: $11,000 per year
  • 21st Century Scholar program: $7,500 per year
  • Scholarship: $1,000
  • Summer job: $1,000
  • The rest: Student loans