Scripps College Announces $30 Million Initiative to Expand Access for Underrepresented Students

By Emily Glory Peters

Scripps students back to back promoting financial aid Schuler access initiative

After an extremely selective process, Scripps College has been named as a partner college in the Schuler Access Initiative. The initiative is a multimillion-dollar investment to increase enrollment of students with limited financial resources (Pell-eligible) and students with undocumented status who are ineligible for federal student aid at top liberal arts colleges in the US.

Through a 10-year matching gift challenge to inspire gifts from the Scripps community, Schuler Education Foundation will fund a grant of up to $15 million in financial aid. A total of $30 million will power new scholarships to increase enrollment of these high-achieving students.

“Inclusive student success is a core value at Scripps and is woven into our strategic aspirations for the future. A student body with a wider array of perspectives and backgrounds will elevate academic excellence and produce resilient graduates prepared to serve as leaders in a diverse world,” says President of Scripps College Suzanne Keen. “We’re deeply grateful to the Schuler Education Foundation for helping small liberal arts institutions like Scripps College advance access in such a powerful way.”

Scripps is the only West Coast partner and sole member of The Claremont Colleges to have been selected for the grant. The College joins just nine other institutions since the initiative launched: Barnard College, Bates College, Carleton College, Centre College, College of the Holy Cross, Kenyon College, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Union College.

“We are thrilled to partner with top colleges that have shown their desire to broaden their support for these students by meeting 100 percent of need for all 4 years and have proven that they have great graduation rates for all students,” says Tanya Schuler Sharman, who co-founded the Schuler Education Foundation with her father, Jack Schuler. “The Schuler Access Initiative will allow all ten colleges, and hopefully many more, to open up more seats for these deserving students and push forward the important conversation liberal arts institutions need to have to close the divide in an unequal society.”

Breaking Systemic Barriers for Students with the Most Limited Resources

Federal Pell grants are reserved for students and families in the US with the most pressing financial need. While students with undocumented or Dreamer status (a term for undocumented individuals who were brought to and educated in the US as children) often share this need, they don’t qualify for Pell grants.

Historically, both groups have had minimal representation at private liberal arts institutions. Scripps is no exception.

“Every year, Scripps College’s Admission Committee makes the agonizing decision to deny access to students with extraordinary academic records, co-curricular accomplishments, and leadership potential simply due to our inability to meet their financial need,” says Vice President for Enrollment Victoria Romero. “This initiative will allow us to say yes to more of these outstanding applicants who will strengthen our intellectual community and propel our educational mission.”

These underrepresented student groups make up approximately 11 percent of Scripps’ student body. They’ve achieved graduation rates of 92–95 percent in four of the past five years, consistently outperforming overall College graduation rates. Their contributions as participants and leaders in Scripps’ close-knit residential community have influenced Scripps’ culture for the better.

“A student body with a wider array of perspectives and backgrounds will elevate academic excellence and produce resilient graduates prepared to serve as leaders in a diverse world”

As a need-aware institution, Scripps College rejects admission practices that subjects students to unmanageable student loan debt and lower graduation rates. To fulfill the promise that every student enjoys full immersion in Scripps life, the College meets 100 percent of admitted students’ demonstrated financial need.

This promise typically manifests as substantial financial aid packages with few or zero loans, limiting the number of students who are Pell-eligible and undocumented Scripps can admit and enroll. Thanks to the access initiative, this will soon change.

“Gifts to the initiative, including those to Scripps’ endowment, will help us grow the number of students in these groups by 13 percent over the lifetime of the grant,” says Romero. “We plan to sustain that increase by 7 percent or greater to strengthen our investment in the vibrancy of the College’s student body.”

The Scripps Community Will be Key to Making the Initiative a Success

As a women’s college, Scripps is also distinctive in its proven ability to break systemic barriers to education for underrepresented students. Through the years, the College’s community has helped ease some of these barriers by championing ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice-centered initiatives. Scholarships, internship grants, fellowships, and crucial student support programming have flourished thanks to donors who share Scripps’ vision of extending an exceptional educational experience to all deserving students.

This continued involvement from the Scripps community will be key to cementing the initiative’s success.

While Scripps will actively accept gifts once the 10-year grant period officially begins in the near future, donors can make pledges to the initiative in the interim. Whether through a gift or spreading awareness for the effort, President Keen says she encourages all members of the community to consider how they can help.

“In the short time I’ve been with the College, I’ve already witnessed the generosity of our alums, parents, and friends. They look after one another and earnestly believe in the value of the Scripps experience,” she says. “This rare matching grant is our chance to not only guarantee that underrepresented students can likewise discover all Scripps has to offer, but also to enrich our entire community for years to come.”

To learn more about this exciting opportunity, please contact Associate Vice President for Philanthropy Enrique Gonzalez-Salgado at [email protected]. To make a pledge to give, please click here.