Ho-ho-hope Santa was good to all of you a few days ago! With the holidays coming to a close and all of the generosity winding down, some of you are probably thinking about money and finances more. Perhaps unfortunately, you are now concerned about school finances as well--FAFSA time is just around the corner after all. Rest assured that there is always a way to increase financial aid--for you or your child.
There are the classic aid sources--loans, scholarships, grants. Closely related to the latter two are school endowments. Let's talk about that for a moment. Endowments are monies donated to individual universities by distinguished community members, philanthropists, and quite often by university alumni wishing to give back to their alma mater. Many schools have these, including the following:
- KIPP at Duke: Created just this month, this brand-new endowment to Duke University has been gifted by Bruce and Martha Karsh. Of his 50-million-dollar endowment Karsh says, “It makes a crucial difference to the individual recipients and enhances the intellectual and cultural diversity of the university community.” The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is a network of college-prep high schools across the nation, headed by the Karshes, and this endowment will provide tuition assistance for KIPP graduate now attending Duke. The funds are split between various areas, including the couple's already-established scholarship fund, and provide $30 million for U.S. students and $20 million for international students.
- Yasuko Hino Grate Endowment: Launched in the summer of 2011, this endowment to Seattle Pacific University by Yasuko Grate is aimed at providing funds to international students at SPU holding an F-1 student visa and maintaining a 3.0 GPA.
- Endowments for Excellence at Notre Dame: Various endowments have been made to this larger program at Notre Dame University, including the Lucille and Paul O’Brien Endowment for Excellence in Environmental Sciences, endowments for Excellence in support of Campus Ministry and for international study programs. These endowments are designated to specific academic "schools," departments, or a particular area of the University. Individual endowment amounts range from $100,000 to $5,000,000.
Something to remember about this type of fund source is that it is often designed to be self-generating after the initial investment. Once a donor gives their financial gift to a school, the monies are split up amongst various areas (scholarships, academic departments, professors) and remaining funds are reinvested so that the fund is replenished for future use. This form of financial is especially important in the current economy, where schools are reliant on gifts to increase financial aid and continue operating at their best.
Many colleges and universities have endowments. The best way to find out more about your specific institution is to do your homework. Not everyone likes to run to an office to ask such things, so take a look around the school website in order to see what funds are available. Those of you who prefer to have the one-on-one discussion, or even someone who would like clarification, you are encouraged to speak with university financial advisers or even fundraising/university gift personnel.