By Nicole Lafond
Nov. 17 marked the completion of 80 percent of the semester and the end of tuition funds, leaving the remaining 20 percent of the semester’s expenses in the hands, and hearts, of University donors.
Tuition Free Day was celebrated on the 17th to recognize the gifts given by donors, some sacrificially, to help students finish their education without the great debt that would come from an increased tuition, said director of annual giving Jean Martin.
“We never want to be in students’ faces, but we want them to know how much we depend on donors. Tuition Free Day began in 2009 to celebrate the generosity with which … alumni and friends give to the school,” she said.
This year, students wrote thank-you notes to the donors for their contributions to the University. The table and notes were set up in Ludwig all day and students didn’t hesitate to show their appreciation.
“We decided that next semester we will need two tables,” Martin said. “We got 160 notes [from students] in two hours.” These were sent to 160 different donors.
Donors give to ONU in many ways. They can give unrestricted and restricted gifts. If they choose to give unrestrictedly, the money can go into any aspect of need on campus, while restricted donors give for certain projects such as the construction of Centennial Chapel.
No student-paid tuition money ever goes into the construction of buildings on campus, according to VP for Finance Doug Perry. Once a building is built, however, tuition money is used to maintain it.
The University receives $2.5 million from churches around the region as well; this money is used entirely for student scholarships.
In general, student tuition supports the salaries of faculty and staff members as well as the operating costs of the buildings on campus, Perry said.
There are currently 7,000 individual donors that are active with the University; the continual goal is to increase the base of Olivet’s donors.
“We want to increase the levels of giving from donors,” Perry said. “If we have more revenue from other sources, we will be less dependent on tuition.
Also, more scholarships would be funded rather than unfunded.”
Scholarships that are unfunded are not paid for by endowments or donations.
At this point, ONU gives out $1 million in endowment scholarships and $32 million in unfunded scholarships.
“We would like to see an increase in the levels of funding for scholarships,” Perry said.