In one of several moves prompted by the COVID-19 crisis, the University of St. Francis has temporarily relaxed its admissions policy to become a test-optional school.

“USF will not require students to supply results from an SAT or ACT test as part of admissions this year. We know quite a few students had their testing dates cancelled, and the crisis has totally upended the traditional high school senior year for many students,” said Eric Wignall, vice president of admissions at the university.

“It makes sense that we respond with an alternative pathway and open the door as wide as we can to otherwise-qualified students who want to earn a college degree at St. Francis,” he said.

Students can still submit test scores as part of the college admissions process, which may qualify them for additional scholarship funding, but they are not required to do so.  The university requires high school graduates to have above average grades in a college preparatory curriculum, and some programs – like Nursing – have higher entry standards.

“USF is a community of learners with a focus on supporting our students. It’s part of the mission of the school,” Wignall said. “Opening new pathways for people to come here, on-campus or online to begin or finish a college degree—that’s why we are here.  It just makes sense.”

“We also know that most students are challenged by the cost of tuition.  Quite a few high school students tell us they are changing their college plans as a result of the crisis, looking for more financial aid and planning on attending a college closer to home,” Wignall said.  “We have quickly responded to those concerns.”

Wignall described the university’s increased scholarships available to both traditional and transfer students coming from community colleges or the military.

Another new program this year is the Will County Access Initiative, created for lower income, high achieving local students. “The Access Grant is a full-tuition scholarship for students who can live at home and commute USF.  It covers all of their tuition, and living at home saves even more money.  It’s a sizable investment in the students who need our support the most,” Wignall said.

The Will County Access Initiative was announced just weeks before the Illinois stay-at-home order went into effect. Aimed at Will County’s diverse high school graduates, the scholarship was supported by the USF’s Board of Trustees and several donors.

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Test optional university