College affordability is the challenge of our day with students and their families sometimes priced out of the top-tier institutions even with financial aid factored in. Students unable to afford the Ivy League, Stanfords and NYUs will look elsewhere, talent that frustrated college officials see slipping away all to often.
New York University, one of the more prestigious private universities in the United States launched its Momentum Campaign this month in a bid to offer better scholarships. Its a six-year, $1 billion campaign to attract and retain prospective college students by offering greater scholarships, an initiative certain to be studied by other universities.
NYU President John Sexton launched the widely anticipated campaign on Mon., a drive that aims to raise both current funds and gifts to endow a financial aid fund that will last into perpetuity. The campaign has already raised $200 million including $75 million from a collective of NYU trustees.
NYU spends more than $195 million annually in grant aid with Sexton reporting “significant improvements” over the past decade. Still, Sexton noted that the university is “still not where we want be or need to be,” what he says is currently a “low per-student endowment.” Under the Momentum Campaign, NYU expects to increase its ability to award scholarships.
NYU Trustee Testimony
Trustee Evan Chesler shared his own need for obtaining financial aid when he graduated high school in 1970 and went on to attend NYU. Financial aid made attending NYU possible for the distinguished lawyer who is now chairman of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in Manhattan. Chesler was the first person in his family to go to college and then to law school. About the campaign he said, “…when we are done, NYU will be able to extend to even more young people the chance to have an education they might otherwise not be able to afford.”
NYU has already launched two new scholarship initiatives as part of its Momentum Campaign. The Finish Line Grant provides financial aid to undergraduates as they approach their final semester. The goal with this grant is to lower student debt upon graduation. The grant will equal 10 percent of a student’s federal loan amount, effectively helping them reduce their debt along with their compound interest.
A Global Pathways Scholarship program launches Fall 2014, what will target students interested in studying abroad. Depending on the student’s financial needs up to $4,000 will be awarded to defer the cost for studying abroad. This initiative is designed to help students who might otherwise not consider traveling due to added expenses and lost wages.
Endowment Trends and Strength
Sizable endowments give colleges and universities much flexibility when making long-term plans such as building or refurbishing dormitories, pay for faculty salaries and to provide financial aid. Harvard University has the largest endowment, coming in at $30.4 billion according to CBS Money Watch. By comparison, NYU’s endowment was $2.755 billion, one of 71 colleges and universities with endowments above $1 billion.
On average, university endowments fell by 0.3 percent in the 2012 fiscal year after rising by 19.2 percent the previous year. Over the most recent 10-year period endowments rose by 6.2 percent. Withdrawals, changes in donor gifts, investment gains and losses, and fees can impact a university’s endowment fund.
See Also — U.S. College Endowments Surged in 2011