Director of Financial Aid and Associate Director of Admission, Mike Murray, has been helping to craft a strong academic community through socioeconomic diversity. Mike started his career in admission at St. Bonaventure in 2013, and he joined the George School Admission Office in 2019 where his role swiftly expanded into working through the financial aid process with prospective families.
“The primary goal of financial aid at George School is to open the academic and community experience to students and families who may not otherwise consider making the investment in a George School education,” explained Mike. “In my experience, George School is the most socioeconomically diverse campus I have ever been a part of and that is thanks to the investment the school makes in financial aid. We have the resources to help families across the financial spectrum.”
“The most common misconception is that financial aid is limited to a specific income bracket with a strict cutoff. There is no such cutoff, and many families receive financial aid,” said Mike. “In fact, over half of our applicants apply for financial aid and almost half of the student body receives it. It is still a big investment for families, but financial aid makes it feasible based on their circumstances. To apply for financial assistance, families must first complete a Parent Financial Statement. This captures a snapshot of a family’s financial situation and helps us calculate the Expected Family Contribution, which is the metric that is used to award need-based financial aid, which come in the form of need-based grants.”
“Our objective, as an office, is to be equitable and consistent in determining need and awarding aid,” continued Mike. “At George School, the Admission Committee awards merit-based scholarships based on an applicant’s academic performance, extracurricular accomplishments, leadership experience, and community service involvement. During the admission process, every applicant is automatically considered for merit scholarships. Another one of our committee’s tasks is to select recipients for some of the named scholarships that were created through gifts to the school. It really amazes me how many opportunities have been created at George School by our generous donors. Seeing the impact and knowing the difference it makes in a student’s life is inspiring and reinforces the importance of financial aid in building a strong George School community.”
This past year presented many challenges, including the world of financial aid. “With so much uncertainty and fluctuations in financial situations, COVID-19 certainly had an impact on financial aid calculations,” said Mike. “Some of our families were adversely affected by the pandemic, which led to a handful requesting reconsiderations. Our Financial Aid Committee reviews each request thoroughly and we try to do what we can to help. It can be difficult to read these letters knowing our resources are finite.”
In addition to managing financial aid at George School, Mike serves as one of the co-leaders of the George School Ambassador program. “We have seventy students who serve as George School Ambassadors,” said Mike. “Typically, these students provide tours on a daily basis and bring prospective families through our beautiful campus. As a result of the pandemic, we had to pivot to a virtual format and students had to find ways to replicate some of the informal moments of a tour on Zoom. We created a chance at the beginning of the virtual interview for prospective families to meet with four George School Ambassadors and have those informal chats. I heard from several families after their conversations with the Student Ambassadors that George School was one of the only schools that did such a thing. Since our prospective students come from all over the world, building this virtual experience enhances our ability to bring George School to them.”
As we begin a new academic year, Mike is looking forward to expanding his involvement on campus. “I will be advising this year and will have four advisees. I am thrilled for our students to return to campus and to get more involved in their daily experience and this community.”