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New $50 Million Gift Will Help Bates College Enroll More Low-income Students

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Hedge Hall at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Bates College in Lewiston is receiving up to $50 million to help enroll more low-income and undocumented students.

The grant is just one of several grants totaling half-a-billion dollars from the Schuler Education Foundation to increase access at several select colleges across the country.

Bates President Clayton Spencer said the money will allow the college to increase the number of admitted students eligible for Pell grants by about 50% and meet their full financial need.

"It means that we can just reach out and bring in students who have overcome a lot to get successfully through high school, so they have a lot of drive, and a lot of talent," Spencer said.

Spencer says the funding from the Schuler Foundation will help cover the costs of the program over the next 10 years. The gift also requires that Bates match that funding with its own fundraising.

"Then we will have put in the $50 million from our own donors, in endowment, and that will kick in and support the expanded financial aid program in perpetuity," Spencer says.

Currently, about 200 Bates students are eligible for federal Pell grants, which represents about 10% of the campus population.

The school says it's currently raised about $30 million toward the $50 million goal.