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Colleges should make student aid a funding priority

The pursuit of higher education is priceless, but in recent years, funding this academic endeavor has become increasingly expensive.

The costs of obtaining a college degree have been rising well above the rate of inflation for the past decade. At the same time, many universities have been fattening the size of their endowments.

Endowments comprise funds raised by universities through donor gifts, which accrue interest in various investments and securities. Colleges can use this interest for large expenses, including student financial aid.

When Congress began a probe into the tax-exempt status of the most well-endowed universities in the nation, the universities reacted swiftly and to the benefit of students.

With many families facing difficulties in paying for their children’s college education and a looming economic recession, it is only appropriate that wealthy universities attempt to meet their students half way.

Harvard, the wealthiest university in the world with an endowment of $35 billion, announced it would offer full-tuition scholarships for every student whose family makes less than $60,000 a year.

Stanford, with an endowment of over $17 billion, is one of the latest institutions to join the trend, also eliminating tuition for families with an annual income less than $60,000.

Mills College is much smaller than these other private universities. Their multi-billion dollar endowments make Mills’ $230 million endowment seem quite modest in comparison.
But we salute President Janet Holmgren, also a member of the board of trustees at Princeton, for her dedication in building our endowment over the years of her tenure.

It is only our hope that Mills will one day join these prestigious universities in reputation and generosity, using the interest gained on its endowment to ensure all high-achieving students capable of studying at Mills are able to do so, regardless of ability to pay.

Furthermore, college graduates are often inundated with student loans, which they took out when financial grants and scholarships were not enough.

When Mills officials make this a priority, they will meet the critical needs of the student body, returning to their principal job of supporting the education of women without being hindered by the task of building the College’s financial portfolio.