Clark College Foundation to distribute most in its history to students
For the first time in its 43-year history, Clark College Foundation will distribute more than $1 million in scholarship awards during the 2016-2017 academic year.
“It has taken a great effort to get to this monumental achievement,” said Lisa Gibert, president and CEO of Clark College Foundation. “For 83 years, the college has attracted students with rich and diverse interests and backgrounds, while hundreds of volunteers and concerned citizens have assisted in expanding the role of education as a fundamental solution to some of society’s ailments. Meanwhile, thousands of donors have stepped up and boldly said, ‘Yes, I want to invest in Clark College to make a difference.’”
Clark College Foundation’s endowment portfolio has grown 13 percent in the past decade from $51 million to $58 million. This increase allows the foundation to distribute more funds for scholarships. Endowment funds hold their principal in perpetuity and only a small percentage of the interest—about 5 percent—is applied to scholarships or other college strategic needs.
Clark students who live on their own in Washington can expect to spend $18,000 annually for tuition, fees, books, supplies, living expenses and transportation and carry more than $5,100 in debt. Those living with parents or relatives and attending full time pay $11,000 for those same items, according to Clark’s Financial Aid Department. In comparison, the average loan debt is higher at other Washington community and technical colleges, according to a Washington Student Achievement Council report from December 2013.
Because students are incurring higher debt, more community members, businesses and foundations are partnering with educational institutions like Clark College to assist students with the cost of their education, according to Joel B. Munson, senior VP of development, Clark College Foundation.
“The need for more scholarship opportunities continues to be a focal point for Clark College Foundation,” said Munson.
Half of Clark students receive financial aid, but far fewer get scholarships. During the 2015-2016 academic year, less than half of Clark’s students received either scholarships or other funding that was not a loan. Of 11,294 students, 5,146—or 46 percent—received some sort of non-loan assistance, according to Clark’s Planning and Effectiveness office.
Clark College Foundation is on a path to change the number of deserving students who receive scholarships thanks to financial gifts. Likewise, Clark President Robert K. Knight has made scholarship support a priority of his administration.
The foundation provides partial and full scholarships that pay for tuition, books and fees. The funds are provided by private donations. The amount distributed to students over the past decade has increased 190 percent from $345,000 in 2007 to $1 million that is expected to be awarded through 2017.
Additionally, state and community scholarships awarded by Clark College’s Financial Aid office totaled $1.6 million in 2015-2016, according to Anna Peros, Clark’s financial aid specialist.
“Scholarships are a lifesaver,” said Clark College Foundation’s Gibert. “They can be the difference between attending and not attending Clark for many students. And they are made possible from donors who believe in the power of education.”
One of Knight’s strategic goals is to offer scholarship support at some level for every eligible first-year student entering Clark. When this goal is achieved, Clark College will be the first community college in the Northwest to provide such transformational scholarship support, according to Knight.
“In light of the $1 million scholarship movement, this goal is absolutely achievable,” said Knight, “and with the public’s continued support, we’ll get there very soon.”