Scholarship initiative maintains momentum

| Contributing Reporter

Over $67 million has been raised toward Washington University’s $150 million scholarship initiative, “Opening Doors to the Future,” which began in March of 2009.

The scholarship drive was intended, in part, to keep financial aid stable after many students’ financial circumstances changed following the economic downturn of the past few years. The drive’s formation was announced as the University’s endowment lost money; the University swore that making college affordable to its students was a priority.

“The initiative is to raise scholarship funds to make sure that Wash. U. can enroll students regardless of their financial situation and to make sure that our current students have the funds necessary to graduate,” Bill Witbrodt, director of Student Financial Services, said.

The initiative will end on June 30, 2014 and is gaining most of its funds from the gifts and pledges of alumni and students’ parents.

The scholarship funds are going toward both need- and merit-based financial aid, as determined by the individuals who apply for the scholarships.

Over a period of 18 months, the University has raised almost half of its goal of $150 million.

“We are moving along very nicely toward the goal and ahead of the schedule,” James L. Hamlin, Executive Director of Scholar Support, said.

The funding for the initiative comes from a variety of different sources that include gifts and pledges from alums and friends of the university. Especially among the alums, the “Opening Doors” campaign has gained wide participation.

“The scholarship initiative resonated with friends and alumni who understand the importance of providing financial aid to deserving students,” Hamlin said. “They realize the necessity for providing the monetary aid for these students who want to come to this university. Most donors want it to be based on financial need.”

The optimism among the parties involved with the initiative is also shared by junior Betel Ezaz, the co-chair of WU/FUSED (Washington University for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity).

“I think it’s a very necessary initiative,” Ezaz said. “It shows the University’s commitment to providing for capable students who would not necessarily [have the financial means] to be able to afford coming to Wash. U.”

The initiative allows the University to continue expanding its student diversity, as more financial aid can be handed out to students coming from lower-income backgrounds.

“This allows the admissions office more flexibility in enrolling more economically diverse students,” Ezaz said.

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