$38,850: that’s the ticket price to live and study full time at EMU. One grassroots response to the ever-rising cost of tuition is the Student-Initiated Endowment Fund (SIEF). Started by SGA students in 1998, the senior class of 2014 has voted to donate their class gift to this fund.
From 1988 to 1998, EMU tuition doubled. At this time, majors were growing and the multimillion University Commons was being planned, but there were no increases in need- based financial aid in those 10 years. Students, concerned with this disparity, talked with the Vice President for Advancement and launched the SIEF to assist those struggling with the cost of private education. Originally, the SGA needed to raise $25,000 to establish the endowment with the Office of Development. Their goal was met in the spring semester of 1999. Other student organizations contributed funds from dances, plant sales, benefit concerts, penny drives, and Christmas cookie baking. An SGA document from this time stated that fifty percent of the scholarships were to “be targeted towards students demonstrating need who also fit the category currently described as multi-ethnic or international. This ensures that our campus experience will be true to our mission statement.”
“More than 25 students have benefitted from this endowment,” said Office of Development staff member Carol Lown. Recipients, chosen solely on the basis of financial need, are awarded the endowment each fall.
Current seniors voted this month between expanding the 2013-gifted Alumni Park, purchasing lounge furniture for Roselawn renovations, and the endowment fund.
“I was pleased to have so many seniors respond: 116 answered the survey, and if the class has just over 200 students, that’s not a bad voter turnout,” said class Co-president Brendan Erb.
Senior Jenn Orantes said, “I voted for the needs based endowment because I thought that our money should go for something useful, to help others receive an education.”
57.8% of votes went to the endowment, 25.9% to the Alumni Park behind Northlawn, and 16.4% to Roselawn furniture.
“Senior gifts usually give back to the campus, to help improve quality for the students who are already here,” said Orantes, “but how about those who need to get here? I didn’t want our gift to be wasted on something meaningless like an addition to a small park, or furniture that the school could purchase anyway; I thought that our money needed to go into a worthwhile investment: education.”
The 1999 document states, “it was the hope of the SGA of 1997-98 that student bodies of the future would continue to fundraise for this endowment and see the importance of making quality, private, Christian education possible for anyone.” To this end, seniors are being asked to donate $20.14 to the fund.
-Randi B. Hagi, Co-Editor In Chief
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