Community generosity commences

Learning Specialist Laura Shelvy tells Antony Gregory he would be welcome to work again in Student Support Services as a tutor. Gregory will be able to graduate Saturday after community members donated money to make up for an unexpected shortfall on his student account.

Learning Specialist Laura Shelvy tells Antony Gregory he would be welcome to work again in Student Support Services as a tutor. Gregory will be able to graduate Saturday after community members donated money to make up for an unexpected shortfall on his student account. Photo by Julie Smith.

Because of an anonymous donor, Lincoln University student Antony Gregory will graduate Saturday with the Class of 2013.

The News Tribune ran an article Thursday about Gregory having a $498 bill, originally an $815 bill, on his student account that he couldn’t pay. The bill was due to the federal government taking away a Pell Grant, which is only available to students for 12 semesters or six academic years. The limit was enacted in 2012. Gregory had reached his limit.

He was told he couldn’t graduate Saturday if he didn’t pay his debt.

LU’s Office of Advancement and the News Tribune received phone calls Thursday from people wanting to donate funds to pay Gregory’s bill. One donor paid his bill in full, but others continued to show interest in donating. As of 2 p.m. Thursday, the Advancement Office had received more than $1,000 in donations, paying Gregory’s and three other students’ bills.

“We looked to see what other students needed funds and gave them (the donors) the amounts (needed) and they (the donors) decided what to give,” said Benecia Spencer Williams, LU’s vice president for advancement and executive director of the Lincoln University Foundation. That’s how the additional three students were selected.

Now the Advancement Office is accepting donations earmarked for a newly created Graduate Assistance Fund. Eight of Gregory’s classmates, owing $200-$2,000, were notified to apply to receive assistance from the fund.

“These funds will also help students as time goes on,” Williams said.

Jeannie Brandstetter, director of communications for the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, contacted the News Tribune, asking how she could help.

“I just think that every little bit helps, and when you can help, you should,” she said. “It’s really as simple as that.

“My paltry donation might not get someone all the way there, but if a number of people give a little bit, we’ll all get there together.”

Students at institutions across the country rely on assistance, such as Pell Grants, to finance their education.

While the LU Foundation is able to provide financial assistance to students through scholarships and on a case-by-case basis because of the generosity of alumni and friends, students also rely on grants.

Williams said that the Office of Advancement has never dealt with students with outstanding bills this close to graduation.

“We have to kind of assume it’s because of the new Pell Grant regulations,” she said.

If you are interested in establishing a scholarship or donating funds to assist a student, contact the LU Office of Advancement at 573-681-5096.

Lincoln University’s commencement is at 10 a.m. Saturday at Dwight T. Reed Stadium, 1110 Chestnut St.

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