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Strong Start summer program offers students a kick start to college


A decorative UA in stone near the campus center.

Proving to be a university of opportunity, UA recently launched the Zips Affordability Scholarship, which will allow Pell-eligible students to complete a bachelor’s degree with the cost of tuition and the general fee completely covered after federal and state grants have been applied. UA has gone one step further in support of these students, offering the Strong Start summer program. The program will give students a positive start at UA by allowing them to take no-cost, credit-bearing summer classes in both face-to-face and online formats. 

The Strong Start program and the Zips Affordability Scholarship are two initiatives recently announced by UA in addition to a tuition freeze for the 2021-2022 academic year and a 30% reduction of on-campus housing rates for all students.

“As the cost of a college attendance continues to rise across the country, we realized we needed to take significant steps to help our students,” says John Wiencek, executive vice president and provost. “The Zips Affordability Scholarship and Strong Start summer program are two ways that UA is showing its dedication to students in Northeast Ohio.”  

All students who qualify for the Zips Affordability Scholarship will be invited to take part in the Strong Start summer program, and the first 100 students who commit to full participation will be enrolled. 

The Strong Start summer program will help students in several ways:

  • Small courses taught by faculty dedicated to student success. Classes are capped at 20 students, and all will be delivered in a hybrid format. Courses will emphasize strategies students can employ to be successful in both face-to-face and online courses, giving students a great advantage in knowing how to succeed academically, regardless of the method of delivery. To support learning, all students in the first-year cohort will receive a free Dell laptop computer.
  • Credit for a general education course that can be applied toward the student’s degree.  Students will be advised to take a course that fits into their degree plan to help them get a head start on their freshman year. 
  • A ‘Design Your Life’ course to help students thrive. This hands-on, credit-bearing course will help students tackle the kinds of challenges they can expect to face in college and in life. Using the tools and framework of design thinking, they will learn the importance of collaboration, mentorship and growth mindset to tackle problems and discover what drives them to succeed. Students will learn how to use design thinking as a way to shape the life and career they want. Students can opt to extend this experience by taking a 1-credit follow-up course in the fall with the same instructor. This extends personal mentoring and support and allows the student to continue the Design Your Life process. 

“We realize that we need to do our part to help remove the barriers to degree attainment, which is so critical to developing talent and moving our region forward,” said Wiencek. “The Zips Affordability Scholarship and Strong Start program will help local students get a solid start in their college career.”


Media contact: Cristine Boyd, 330-972-6476 or