Christine Puglisi transferred from the University of Connecticut (UConn) to Albertus Magnus College because she wanted smaller class sizes and a more intimate learning environment.
A Westville native and 2014 graduate of Metropolitan Business Academy, Puglisi was able to make that transition financially possible in no small part because of a $2,500 annual scholarship provided by New Haven Promise, a local scholarship fund and support program open to New Haven public school students.
Starting next fall, Albertus Magnus College will open its doors even wider to New Haven Promise Scholars like Puglisi, with a new commitment to fund nearly half the cost of studying and living on campus at the small, private Catholic college at the top of Prospect Street.
On Tuesday afternoon, Albertus President Marc Camille and New Haven Promise Executive Director Patricia Melton announced that the school will provide New Haven Promise students who enroll at Albertus with annual scholarships of up to $15,000 for tuition and up to $5,000 for room and board, starting in the Fall 2018 semester. Tuition at Albertus Magnus currently costs $30,650 per year. Room and Board costs $13,000 per year.
The announcement took place in the Bree Common area of Albertus Magnus’s Aquinas Hall Building at 915 Winchester Ave.
Melton said that this is the first such partnership between a private college and New Haven Promise for which the scholarship assistance also helps fund room and board. She said that New Haven Promise has similar relationships with state schools like UConn and Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). New Haven Promise guarantees college tuition and other help for New Haveners who graduate from local public schools after maintaining solid attendance and academic records.
Camille said that this commitment, which equals up to $80,000 over four years for each New Haven Promise student who enrolls at Albertus Magnus, is in line with the values, goals and target population that the school already serves.
“For those students for whom Albertus Magnus College is the right fit,” he said, “my desire, my goal is to never have financial barriers be such that they cannot choose to enroll here or complete their degrees here. This partnership with New Haven Promise moves us forward with that commitment.”
He said that 40 percent of Albertus’s 1,500 student body are first-generation students. He said that half are students of color, half receive Pell grants, and 60 percent come from New Haven County – 15 to 20 percent of whom come from the city proper.
“We’re going to break the bank,” Melton said with a smile during the announcement. She said that New Haven Promise and Albertus Magnus shoot to have 10 New Haven public school students enrolled at Albertus starting next fall.
“That means that Albertus Magnus in very short order has dedicated close to $1 million over the next four years,” she said. “That’s $1 million, folks!”
New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) Superintendent Carol Birks called the announcement a great way to start her second day on the job.
“I can personally attest to the fine education that Albertus has to offer,” she said, citing a goddaughter who grew up in poverty in New Haven, graduated from Albertus Magnus, and now works as a financial accountant for the City of Bridgeport.
Jorgieliz Casanova, a 22-year-old graduate of Albertus Magnus who was also a New Haven Promise Scholar and currently works as a program assistant at New Haven Promise, said that the small, private Catholic college helped her blossom as a student in a way that she never thinks she could have at a larger school.
She said that New Haven Promise played an instrumental role in allowing her to go to college by providing her with an annual scholarship of close to $2,000.
“As a first-generation student whose plan was to go to college,” said Casanova, who moved from Puerto Rico to the Hill when she was 5 years old, “this was an opportunity that made that vision affordable and attainable.” (Click here to hear Casanova tell her story on a previous edition of WNHH FM’s “Dateline New Haven” program.)
Watching from the back of the café, Puglisi said that she was excited to see Albertus Magnus work with New Haven Promise to further remove financial barriers for New Haven students who wanted to get a college education at a small, private school.
Puglisi is a chemistry-biology double major. Her lab classes have seven or eight students each. “It’s so important to have small class sizes when you’re in the lab,” she said. Albertus made that possible for her in a way that UCONN could not, she said.
She said that she was grateful for the $2,500 annual scholarship that she receives from New Haven Promise to attend Albertus, and looks forward to her peers receiving even more support going forward.
“Every cent adds up,” she said.