Campaign brings new scholarship opportunities

Debby Hernandez, Associate News Editor

Eastern’s Scholarship Mini Campaign, which was established to bring in new scholarships for students through donors, has raised more than $20 million in funding since it began in 2012.

Bob Martin, the vice president for university advancement, said Eastern began a Scholarship Mini Campaign after the EI&U campaign ended in 2012.

Martin said from the $20 million, $13 million came from gifts and bequests, and $7 million were in cash.

In 2014, a total of 72 scholarships were raised and 23 have been raised this year.

Martin said the EI&U Campaign established 203 new scholarships, raising almost $64 million.

The goal for the Mini Campaign is to raise a minimum of 100 new scholarships by June 2017.

Martin said 95 scholarships have been raised, but the goal is to raise more.

Christine Edwards, the financial aid scholarship coordinator, said during the last academic year, a total of 4,780 financial awards were given to students, with $10.4 million all together in aid.

She said parents and students are concerned with the cost of attendance and are looking to offset those costs through financial assistance.

“We are working for all academic areas to provide both annual and endowed scholarships,” Martin said.          

Martin said endowment helps accumulate interest on scholarships.

An endowment is when the donor gives a large amount of money to pay for the support.

“Endowed is where a portion of the interest earned is used, and the rest of the interest grows the scholarship,” he said. “The principle stays intact and the scholarship is permanent.”

Martin said apart from endowments, the campaign is also using a cash-in, cash-out scholarship agreement, also known as an annual scholarship.

Under this method, the minimum amount to establish a scholarship is $1,000 per year.

The donor is then requested to donate for at least five years.

The goal would consist of having at least 20 scholarships endowed and five other scholarships through cash-in and cash-out, for a total of 25 scholarships per year.

From 2014 to 2017, if the goal is reached, there would be 100 scholarships.

Edwards said one of the typical questions she receives is what kind of financial assistance students are applying for when filing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

“We provide them with information with scholarship opportunities at Eastern and outside,” she said.

She said one of the biggest challenges students and parents have when they come to her office in search of scholarships is that they have little knowledge on the subject.

“They don’t always know where to look,” she said. “I try to educate and raise awareness on where to go, and how to apply.”

Martin said donors include alumni, friends, foundations and corporations, whose gifts go to wherever they request their money to support.

He said some donors also support other projects for academics and athletics areas, including the Autism Center, CENCERE, basketball locker room, and the Global Ambassadors’ Plaza.

Martin said all contributions are tax deductible, and donors also benefit by “positively changing lives.”

“Your scholarship could perhaps fund the next leading oncologist, a future corporate CEO or vice president, a Super Bowl winning coach, a teacher of the year and more,” he said.  “It adds value to their EIU degree by enhancing the reputation of the university by the ability to attract the best students.”

Martin said students could also help with the scholarship fund by working with Lisa Denson-Rives, the director of annual fund and commencement.

“Give up a pizza, a cheese burger, and use that money to make a gift for a scholarship. If enough students participate it really can add up,” he said.

Edwards said now is the time for students to apply for scholarships since deadlines are close.

She said students can also check Eastern’s scholarship Twitter and Facebook for more information on scholarship opportunities.

Debby Hernandez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].