By Kyle Lundberg, staff writer
ASB, Student Congress and the Alumni Association hosted the third annual Tuition Freedom Day last Friday to make students aware of the contributions of others to their education. The celebration invited students to write thank you cards to donors and consider the costs of their education as compared to other private colleges.
Currently, PLNU’s tuition covers 77.5 percent of the school’s education costs. PLNU alumni, corporations, foundations and other donors pay the remaining 22.5 percent.
According to Sheryl Smee, director of alumni relations, student knowledge about alumni giving has dropped off in recent years.
“People are getting about a $20,000 scholarship or more without even knowing it,” Smee said. “They need to know that.”
Alumni Coordinator and PLNU alumna Beth Denny agrees.
“As a student, I had no idea that tuition wasn’t covering 100 percent of my education costs,” Denny said.
When it comes to alumni giving, Denny and Smee explained that most students think that alumni giving comes mostly in the form of large donations, but actually smaller gifts make a big difference.
“Our school tends to run on a lot of $25, $50 or $100 donations,” Smee said. “It’s a lot of small gifts.”
According to Smee, the main reason small donations help is because of the alumni giving rate, the percentage of alumni who give back to the school in anything, whether to the school in general or to a certain department or scholarship, no matter the amount, in a given fiscal year. When seeking financial support from foundations or corporate donors, PLNU is asked to provide its alumni giving rate.
“The giving rate is important because it measures alumni satisfaction,” Smee said. “When we go, for example, to a corporation to ask about getting new gym equipment, they ask for the alumni giving rate. If your alums care enough to give back, this is seen as a sign by corporations and other donors that they should care as well.”
Additionally, US News and World Report uses the alumni giving rate when ranking colleges and universities across the country.
ASB Vice President Lauren Waggoner assisted in hosting Tuition Freedom Day. According to Waggoner, it is important to recognize the giving spirit of the PLNU community.
“As students, we are part of a larger going-on that we don’t recognize,” Waggoner said. “It would be a lot more expensive to attend PLNU without the giving of others. It’s important to recognize that as we graduate and become alumni.”