Cardinal Covenant

In 2007, the University of Louisville initiated a special program called the Cardinal Covenant in response to college costs and the challenge for students from low-income families to fund their education. The University of Louisville's Cardinal Covenant is the first program of its kind in the state of Kentucky. This program will make college attainable for the 22.6% of Kentucky families living at or below 150% of the federal poverty level as published by the U.S. Census Bureau (Data obtain from the U.S. Census Bureau).

The University of Louisville will make a promise to incoming freshmen who meet the following criteria to award enough gift assistance from federal, state, private, and institutional sources to cover their direct costs (tuition, room, board, and books). Students will be able to graduate debt free as long as they graduate within four years and remain Pell Grant eligible each year.

  • The Cardinal Covenant is not an award based on merit, but we ask students to submit an essay using the admissions scholarship application process. The purpose of this essay is to help the University of Louisville understand from the student’s perspective how receiving Cardinal Covenant will assist them in reaching their full potential as a student at the University of Louisville and citizen of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Covenant Committee will be looking at the quality and thoroughness of your answers. Students are free to draw upon personal experiences and reflections in this essay. The Covenant Committee encourages students to try to have fun with this essay and allow the university to see why and how you will be a significant part of program.


In addition to submitting the required essay a student must:

  • Submit admissions application and all required credentials (test scores and high school transcript) by Dec. 15th.
  • Meet academic requirements of a 20 ACT composite score and 2.5 High School GPA by Dec. 15th.
  • Be a resident of Kentucky
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1st
  • Have a complete financial aid file including submission of all requested documentation (i.e. verification) to our office. A future deadline will be sent to students who apply to the program. Students who overlook required signatures or who submit requested documentation after this deadline, are not guaranteed funding and will be awarded based on remaining availability of funds.
  • Meet all Pell Grant,CAP Grant, and Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) eligibility requirements
  • Have an annual family income at or below 150% of the 2016 federal poverty guidelines as published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) . Below is the chart published for 2016.


  • --Number in Family--

--150% of Poverty Level--

















  • *For each additional person add, $6,240

The most important action that a student can take for consideration for the Cardinal Covenant program is complete new year FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1. In addition, students should work with the Office of Admissions to be certain they have submitted all required applications and documentation for acceptance at U of L.


If designated a Cardinal Covenant Recipient a student must:

  • Register for new student orientation by May 1
  • Sign and submit Cardinal Covenant Terms of Agreement
  • Enroll full time, 12 hours or more each semester
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) as defined at U of L for continued eligibility to receive federal aid
  • Meet academic requirements of school or college to continue enrollment
  • Maintain required minimum eligibility for all awarded institutional and state funds
  • Due to the number of applicants and funds available, only a limited number of Cardinal Covenant students are selected.


If a student must leave the university due to special circumstances they may be eligible for a leave of absence. If there are unique circumstances that require students to take a break from attendance and they are a Cardinal Covenant student, a leave of absence request must be submitted. All requests will be reviewed, if approved a leave of absence for Cardinal Covenant purposes will be granted. Not all requests for a leave of absence will be approved. These requests must be submitted to Rachel Kirk in the Student Financial Aid Office.