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James W. DenmarkSince its creation in 1834 as a small liberal arts college in eastern North Carolina, Wake Forest has been educating students from all walks of life. Many of the early students came from the region’s small towns and farms, rich in faith and community but poor in hard currency. After the Civil War, most southern families had even less money, and finding a way to pay for college was a huge challenge. War veteran James Denmark (pictured) worked for six years in a flour mill before he entered Wake Forest in 1871. Concerned that fellow students could not afford to complete their degrees, he rallied faculty, students and Wake Forest townspeople to start a loan fund. Established by donations in 1875, the James W. Denmark Loan Fund is the oldest college loan program in the United States.

Now a highly ranked national university, Wake Forest is more committed than ever to helping families pay for college. As one of the U.S. News “best-value” national universities, the University provides need-based scholarships and grants to 37% of undergraduates. For the 2013-14 academic year, students with need received an average award of $38,500, which included scholarship and grant funds of $29,700. These grants, along with loans, a work-study job, and summer savings, can pay for over two-thirds of total costs. Special awards, such as the Heritage Scholarship, are made to students with significant need from small towns, who might not have otherwise considered Wake Forest. First-time students from families with annual income of less than $40,000, whose assets are not unusually high, have their loans and work-study capped at $6,000 per year (typically $4,000 in loan and $2,000 in work-study, but dependent on the availability of work-study). Other need is met by grants and scholarships.

The Office of Student Financial Aid exists to help you find the resources you need to attend Wake Forest. It is not hard to apply for financial aid. Read the information contained in these web pages, complete the application forms, and submit the supporting documentation. Call or write us if you have questions. Thanks to James Denmark and the generosity of many others, it’s easier now than it was in 1871!

Best wishes,
Bill Wells
Director of Financial Aid