Student Aid Expands as Scripps’ Presidential Scholarship Initiative Tops $10 Million Target

Scripps’ Presidential Scholarship Initiative will allow more students to enroll and graduate from the College without the burden of weighty debt.

By Emily Glory Peters

In 2017, Scripps College set an aggressive target of raising $10 million in endowed funds for its new Presidential Scholarship Initiative, a project aimed at expanding the College’s ability to cover the full cost of tuition for its lowest-income students. Now, with the generous support of the Scripps community, the College has surpassed that goal.

“We’re thrilled to announce that we met and exceeded our initial goal for Scripps’ Presidential Scholarship Initiative with more than $10.5 million in supporting gifts and commitments,” says Enrique Gonzalez-Salgado, associate vice president for philanthropy at Scripps. “Hitting this milestone reflects our community’s belief that the Scripps experience should not be merely aspirational, but accessible for high-achieving students regardless of their financial resources.”

The journey to full endowment—and its impact

Galvanized by a $1 million lead gift from Life Trustee Carolyn Revelle, the initiative got off to a promising start, soon drawing aid from other alumnae, parents, and friends of the College.

By the 2019­–2020 academic year, Scripps was able to award full grant support for 95 students with annual household incomes under $60,000, plus loan-reduction awards for an additional 36 seniors. For the current 2020–2021 academic year, awards applied to all seniors with demonstrated need, reducing their loan amounts from $5,500 to $4,500. With the fund now at its initial goal, the College anticipates loan reduction or elimination for even more students.

“We are now able to provide approximately 10 percent of the Scripps student body loan-free financial aid packages. Just three years ago, this was true for less than one percent of our students,” says President Lara Tiedens. “This is possible due to the amazing generosity of our supporters.”

The diversity of that support has been key to the initiative’s success. Larger donations, such as the recent $500,000 gift from alumna Suzanne Ely Muchnic ’62, can be immediately endowed (invested so its income can go towards financial aid). Donations of other amounts are equally valuable, allowing Scripps to “pool” gifts together to reach the endowment threshold needed for the funds to be invested. The outcome is more stable, long-term financial aid for both current and future students.

When it comes to equity, scholarships will continue to matter

Although the initiative has met its initial goal, that doesn’t signify the end. The College’s pursuit of becoming need-blind—able to extend admission to high-achieving applicants without having to consider their ability to pay—is directly tied to scholarship support.

Without it, noted Tiedens in a recent Inside Higher Ed opinion piece, admitted students may be forced to juggle multiple jobs while pursuing their studies, which can rob them of the signature Scripps experience. Alternatively, they may choose to take out loan packages that can result in substantial debt after graduation—or even prevent their ability to complete their studies. Increasing no-loan aid is a logical part of the solution.

“Achieving equity in higher education requires not only making the admission process fairer, but also providing students with the financial support necessary to go to college and excel there,” says Tiedens. “We must continue to seek ways to decrease the financial burden on enrolled low-income students, whether through reducing the use of loans or other methods.”

In hitting the $10 million milestone, the College is better equipped to employ one powerful method: scholarships for an increasing number of students. It’s a practice made possible by those who share Scripps’ passion for learning—and the conviction that all talented students have a right to access it.

Says Tiedens, “Providing such no-loan financial aid packages will enable us to truly ensure that the college experience reflects the equitable access to opportunity we aspire to offer to all students on our campus.”

This year’s Day of Giving will focus on scholarship aid, which impacts more than half of Scripps’ students. Click here to make a gift to scholarships, and be sure to mark your calendar for Day of Giving on March 24, 2021!

Interested in learning more? Check out our latest giving and impact news here.