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Three years ago, Nursing junior Connie Ritorto waited and waited and waited . . . Ritorto applied to the University from St. Maria Goretti High School in South Philadelphia and received a letter in early April that she had been accepted to the Nursing School. But Ritorto's father said the family could not afford the $20,000-plus tuition and told Ritorto she would have to go somewhere else if she could not secure sufficient financial aid. So she waited and waited and waited. Several months later, Ritorto was notified by letter from the University that she had garnered a Mayor's Scholarship that would cover her full tuition. "My father gave me a stipulation when I applied -- don't get your hopes up because we can't afford it," Nursing sophomore Ritorto said earlier this week. "Then, my parents were thrilled because they were not going to send me to Penn if I could not pay the tuition . . . This put my financial problems to rest." Ritorto is just one of many students at the University who said this week that their Mayor's Scholarships were the key that allowed them to afford the University's tuition. But in the past few months the University's program has come under fire. Critics, who filed suit against the University in October, claim the University is not supplying enough scholarships to Philadelphia high school graduates. The plaintiff coalition of organizations, labor unions, student groups and individuals assert that the University is failing to comply with a 1977 city ordinance which requires the University to maintain the scholarships. The coalition claims the University is required to provide 125 four-year scholarships every year for a total of 500 at any given time. The University maintains that it is legally required to provide 125 at any given time. But scholarship recipients said last night that, although they were concerned about the suit's repercussions, they were not directly affected and had not been approached by either party. "At first, when I heard about the lawsuit, I was concerned about the state of my scholarship," Nursing sophomore Rosanna DeFeo said this week. "I was afraid they would take it away -- and that would cause me problems." President Sheldon Hackney has admitted that the University has not publicized the program well enough and notes that the University has already taken strides to make more Philadelphia students aware of it for next year. Ritorto and DeFeo, who graduated from the same high school class, said this week that they were informed of the program by their high school guidance counselor. The counselor insisted that everyone who applied to the University also fill out a Mayor's Scholarship application. Nursing junior Truc Vo said she discovered the scholarship opportunity when she went to City Hall to apply for a different scholarship. Vo said that the clerk behind the desk told her of the Mayor's Scholarship. Mayor's Scholars said last week that the application was simple and only one page. Although they could not remember the specifics of the application, one commented that it was not as difficult as "the Penn application."

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