Centre College is starting a new scholarship program aimed at first-generation college students.
Starting next fall, the Grissom Scholars Program — with funding provided by Marlene and J. David Grissom — will provide tuition for 10 high-achieving students whose parents did not receive a four-year degree, with 40 enrolled by 2018.
In addition to the school's $37,100 annual tuition, the Grissoms are providing $5,000 for other costs, such as study abroad.
J. David Grissom, a lawyer and banker in Louisville, graduated from Centre in 1960 and was chairman of its board of trustees for two decades.
The Grissoms didn't want the total amount of their donation to be made public, college officials said.
Centre President John Roush said the Grissoms were motivated to change the increasing economic inequality on college campuses across the nation.
"There is a sense that young people who are labeled first-generation don't imagine that college is within their reach," Roush said when the gift was announced Tuesday in Danville. "This program is the foundation piece for being sure that 30 years from now, the opportunity to have access to the American dream does exist at Centre."
About 60 percent of Centre students receive some form of need-based financial aid, said Bob Nesmith, Centre's dean of admissions.
Nationally, "we have a need-based financial aid system that is a tangled thicket of confusion, even to the most sophisticated families," Nesmith said. "It's a confusing process, and sticker prices on colleges are off-putting even to families of means. One of the great things about this program is it communicates very clearly to students: We're going to take care of you."
Interested candidates must apply for admission to Centre by Jan. 15, using the free common application, and must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the Centre Aid Form by Jan. 31.
Competitive candidates will then be invited to submit a separate Grissom Scholars application, which will be due in mid-February. Approximately 30 finalists will travel to campus at the college's expense for an interview weekend in March, with awards announced in early April.
High school counselors are encouraged to nominate outstanding candidates by completing an online nomination form on the Centre website: www.centre.edu/grissom.