January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 29°F


Commentary: Student donations improve the student experience

Why should I give the college more money after paying so much in tuition? Aren’t I already paying enough to go here? My student loan debt is outrageous because of Ithaca College.

These questions and statements are ones I often hear as a member of this year’s Senior Class Gift Committee and in my time as a Student Development Officer for the IC Annual Fund (aka a Phonathon caller). Students and alumni with these concerns raise valuable issues. Those with such strong opinions on the topic are often disinterested in hearing the explanations or are misguided about what the IC Annual Fund does for students. Opening a two-way dialogue is important to understanding both sides of the issues.

To drop two quick facts, tuition only covers 85 percent of the Ithaca College experience. Over 85 percent of students here are on financial aid and receiving scholarship funds or grants from the college in some capacity.

When I say “the Ithaca College experience,” I’m referring to all the stuff that made your time here at IC truly great. Student clubs, organizations, athletics, study abroad, research opportunities, and extracurriculars are all funded through the IC Annual Fund thanks to the Senior Class Gift and alumni. Money given to Ithaca College through the fund does not go to paying salaries, keeping the lights on, and it definitely doesn’t go into Tom Rochon’s pocket despite popular belief. It goes to fund everything extra outside of the classroom and residence halls that you have taken part in while here.

In regards to last semester’s campus-wide protests and the resulting new diversity programs the college plans to implement, these were unforeseen circumstances that the college did not originally budget for at the beginning of the year through tuition payments. Although gifts to the college don’t go toward keeping the lights on, last semester they actually did when students were camping out in Peggy Ryan Williams throughout the week. Keeping the lights, bathrooms, and extra Public Safety staff going for longer than usual wouldn’t have been possible without those who gave what little extra they could to the college. The new diversity programs will need backing. Gifts given to the IC Annual Fund can go directly to those if that’s something you’re passionate about. Same goes for last year’s issue with funding for CAPS. Gifts can be directed there as well.

Financial aid funding also comes from the IC Annual Fund. As previously stated, this affects 85 percent of students here at Ithaca College, and I’m one of them. My senior year of high school, I actually had a full ride to another college in New York State, but something about IC told me that I belonged here with all of you. Without the financial aid I received thanks to donors to the IC Annual Fund, Ithaca would have remained just an unmet dream to me. I am so grateful I made the decision to come here.

Personally, I’m on both sides of the giving back argument myself. In order to save money and reduce the student loan debt I have under my belt, I’m graduating in three years from Ithaca College and effectively cutting my college experience short. Tuition here is double what my single mother makes in a year. I have over $50,000 in private loan debt alone to Sallie Mae with 12 percent fixed interest rates. Despite all of these things, I gave $20.16 through the 2016 Senior Class Gift and will continue to give in small amounts once graduating in order to ensure that the students after me have all the same awesome opportunities given to me while at Ithaca College.

I’m not saying give your remaining arm and leg to the college after tuition is paid. However, think about how many people giving only a little could add up to a financial aid package that fulfills a teenager’s dream of coming to IC, an opportunity for a senior to present research findings at a huge conference in Connecticut for a weekend, or helping make the campus move toward a more inclusive future.

Donate at alumni.ithaca.edu/seniorgift.

Kristin Schultz is a senior integrated marketing communications major. Email her at kschult2@ithaca.edu.