What financial aid makes possible

Talent. Determination. Leadership. With expanded support for financial aid, we're propelling budding leaders forward and helping students become who they were meant to be.

Students who have the potential to thrive at Brown come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Many require significant financial aid to pursue higher education, and Brown is committed to opening doors for them. That’s why financial aid is the fastest growing portion of the University’s budget.

This year, their needs are even more acute. Due to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, students who had not previously sought financial aid must do so.

"Planning for this academic year was complicated by the unexpected and unknown impacts of COVID-19 on our students’ lives," says Dean of Financial Aid Jim Tilton. "We expected a substantial increase in the need for financial aid, and we expected applications from students who never needed aid before." 

In preparation for this, Brown granted summer earnings waivers to all aided students, decreased the percentages used to calculate parent contributions, and committed to purchasing airfare directly to assist international students. These changes are the kind of actions that will enable promising young scholars to continue their journeys despite unforeseen challenges.

All facets of Brown’s financial aid program aim to increase opportunity. These resources don’t just make it possible for students to choose Brown; they also give them the flexibility they need to become the person they were meant to be.

We spoke to two Brunonian leaders—senior Roysworth Grant III and entrepreneur Angelique (Angel) Brunner ’94— about the ways in which financial aid has changed their lives.

Roysworth Grant III ’21

Political science and theatre arts concentrator

Roysworth Grant III '21 outsideGrant had received a top-notch education at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia—one that sharpened his academic prowess and strengthened his resilient mindset. However, the college experience he craved was broad and interdisciplinary.  

“I toured three schools,” he remembers, “All were elite, but Brown stood out. People I didn’t even know were shouting, ‘Please come to Brown!’ I knew I could thrive here!”    

For the past several years, that’s exactly what he’s done. He chose to study political science because he was stimulated by dining hall conversations with conservative high school classmates. “If I was going to speak to classmates about Black Lives Matter, women’s rights, and gun control, I needed to ensure I was fully educated. Those back-and-forths sparked my passion.”  

But his other love, which became his second concentration, is theatre arts: “I will be a renowned actor, an investor, screenwriter, philanthropist, charter school opener, and production company owner. I never let people tell me that I can't. If I put my mind to something, I know I will fulfill my wildest dreams.” 

Grant’s favorite class? Black Lavender with Associate Professor Elmo Terry-Morgan. “I learned about Black queer playwrights, Black queer actors, and the Black queer experience in general. Performing for Black Lavender Experience was incredible. It was a whole different world that I was excited to learn more about because I like exploring different ideas and practicing allyship. Writing my own monologues, performing them, and telling the stories of people who don't have their stories told as often as they should was personally fulfilling.”   

In the summer, he interned with Beyond BookSmart, an executive functioning tutoring company. It helps kids who struggle with ADHD or dyslexia learn skills such as task initiation and time management. 

Now, he and a friend are branching out on their own. They are launching a nonprofit called Cashout Catalyst that teaches computer coding and financial literacy to students in grades five through 12.   

“Many kids of color believe that there are limited opportunities for success beyond sports or music. But coding is a potential pathway, an equalizer in our technology-driven society. And learning financial literacy early on is the perfect way to start great habits that will eventually bring financial freedom. My presence in these students' lives will let them know that people who look like them can achieve, can be somebody.”

Over the past several years, Grant has also worked at the Brown Annual Fund Call Center, volunteered for the Brown Annual Fund, and is currently the vice polemarch for the Lambda Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

“I was fortunate to receive practically a full scholarship, and I appreciate the generous donors who substantially alleviated costs in order for me to take advantage of this wonderful place called Brown. It’s enabled me to fulfill my own dreams on College Hill as well as to reach out to help others fulfill theirs. I’m forever grateful.”

 

Angelique (Angel) Brunner ’94

Founder and CEO of EB5 Capital, a commercial real estate firm

Brunner’s father was in the first generation affected by companies that had bankrupted their pension funds: “My dad had worked for Pan-American Airways for 30 years. We went from a comfortable sort of union, middle-class family to no pension and just social security.” 

She knew that her college education had to come with a full scholarship and, at the time, the Ivy League and Brown in particular had strong financial aid programs. “They didn't yet have need-blind admission so I knew that not only did I have to get in, but I had to get in and be interesting enough to pay for.” 

At Brown, Brunner learned to think critically. “My study of ethics grounded me. My study of social justice taught me how policy can drive social equity and social inequity, and how it could purposely be used in both directions. I choose to fight for whatever is not equal: I engage in the private sector in a values-based way, and the businesses I create look fundamentally different because of that.” 

She believes social justice permeates the curriculum at Brown, no matter the concentration. “That commitment continues to move society forward. What a student learns is far beyond what they intended to learn, and those lessons are important.”

I learned that I was capable of far more than I thought I was. That there were many people involved in my success; that Brown was invested in it. That they could, perhaps, see more than I could see.

Angelique (Angel) Brunner ’94

What else defines Brown? “It excels at attracting leaders," Brunner says, “and helping them make it to the next level.”   

“I was a leader of an organization fighting for need-blind admission—where a candidate's financial need is not taken into consideration when deciding to admit, wait list, or deny an applicant. Brown's a force multiplier for social change, and part of that is the diversity of the fabric of the student body. Economic diversity is critical to social change. Having benefited from financial aid and knowing that there were students who didn't, fighting for need-blind admission was a natural fit. Without need-blind admission, we weren't going to address the social inequality created by unequal educational access.  

I learned that I was capable of far more than I thought I was. That there were many people involved in my success; that Brown was invested in it. That they could, perhaps, see more than I could see. When my mother died during my senior year, Dean Lydia English suggested that I not drop out of school to take care of my father and brother on the West Coast, but that I bring them to campus so that I could finish. That was the most extraordinary thing I had ever heard in my life. My future was literally being saved in front of my eyes.”   

Brunner has recently shown her gratitude and her desire to pay it forward, in part, by donating a substantial gift to financial aid. “I'm supporting Brown's commitment to students like me—a powerful commitment that was made before I even stepped on campus. It's important to maintain that legacy.”

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