- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2003

FREDERICK, Md. — That old-time tuition, it’s good enough for Rebecca Dupont.

She’s paying just $325 instead of $19,940 for her first year at private Hood College — a whopping $19,615 discount.

Miss Dupont, of Conshohocken, Pa., is one of seven incoming freshmen awarded a “heritage scholarship” under an unusual financial-aid program enabling new Hood students to pay the same first-year tuition as their alumnus parent or grandparent.

While legacy scholarships of $5,000 are common among increasingly generous private colleges, Hood’s heritage grants may be unique, Carl Behrend, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said.

“I have not heard of one that is tied to what your parents or grandparents paid,” he said. “That is a pretty good deal, isn’t it?”

Miss Dupont, 18, called it a bonus, but not the deciding factor in her choice of Hood over Mount Holyoke. She fell for the “homey” atmosphere of the liberal arts school during a visit to the 50-acre campus about 50 miles from Baltimore and Washington.

“Everyone was very friendly and happy there,” she said.

And then there was the family tradition.

Her tuition — good for the first year only — is exactly what her grandmother, Louise Renninger Rittenhouse, Class of ‘48, paid.

Rebecca’s mother, Beth Rittenhouse, also attended Hood, graduating in 1974. She said she was pleased by her daughter’s choice of schools, but didn’t push for it.

Rebecca’s grandmother, 74, said she had hoped her granddaughter would choose Mount Holyoke, which remains a women’s college. Hood, founded in 1893, opens its dormitories to men for the first time this school year, starting Monday. Men have been attending Hood as commuters, but not residents, since the early 1970s.

“I don’t like that it’s going coed. I wrote them a very searing letter about that,” Rebecca’s grandmother said.

Her granddaughter, a high school actress and clarinetist interested in Hood’s humanities offerings, said the coed change is saddening — but not enough to dissuade her from going.

Just one of the seven heritage scholars is male. Miss Dupont’s is the largest of the heritage discounts, which averaged $17,500, Hood spokesman David Diehl said.

President Ronald J. Volpe said he got the idea from a 1950s-era alumnus who complained that Hood’s tuition had gotten so high, her granddaughter couldn’t afford to attend.

“We came up with this as way to continue this legacy, if you will, as a way to give back to some of the alumni, and also, quite frankly, as a way to encourage more students to take a look at Hood,” Mr. Volpe said. “What we’re counting on is, if they’re here for the freshman year, they will stay and graduate in four years.”

The scholarships are just one of Mr. Volpe’s strategies for boosting enrollment at Hood.

Through aggressive marketing and the coed switch, the school expects a net gain of about 100 new students this fall.

That would push the number of new students above 300 and the total enrollment, including undergrads and graduate students, somewhere between 1,700 and 1,800, Mr. Diehl said.

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