University launches financial aid fund

The University has launched new efforts to promote fundraising devoted to student aid after more students applied for increased financial assistance last fall than in the entire 2008-2009 academic year.

In a letter to the GW community last month, University President Steven Knapp announced the establishment of the Power and Promise Fund. The University hopes the fund, which aims to increase the affordability of attending GW and reduce the burden of costly loans on GW graduates, will raise $18 million for student financial assistance this year.

“At the core of this mission is our dedication to ensuring that a George Washington education remains accessible to all who are qualified,” President Knapp said in the letter.

Only $10 million was raised in 2008 for financial aid, Knapp said. The total budget for student aid is $133 million.

The fund is part of the five-year plan that Knapp designed to increase GW’s affordability last February.

“In 2008, we pledged to quadruple the dollars raised for undergraduate, graduate, and professional student aid. As the latest step in fulfilling that pledge, I am pleased to announce the establishment of the George Washington Power and Promise Fund,” he said in the announcement.

“‘Power’ refers to the power of education, ‘Promise’ to the potential achievement and contribution of the leaders we are educating,” Knapp said in an e-mail.

Several GW departments are involved in operating the new fund, including the Office of Student Financial Assistance and the Division of Development and Alumni Relations.

“We inform and engage alumni, parents, and friends of GW to encourage their philanthropic support of university priorities,” Associate Vice President of Development Communications Patricia Danver said. Donors to GW’s alumni network can allocate their contributions to the Power and Promise Fund.

Approximately two-thirds of students currently attending GW receive some financial aid.

“Student aid is a major priority across the University. The GW Power and Promise Fund is an identity for philanthropic support of student aid,” Danver said.

Increased donations toward aid will reduce GW’s dependence on tuition to supply financial assistance to students, Knapp said.

“Providing student aid is currently one of the highest costs borne by the university. The more support for student aid we receive from gifts, the less we have to take out of other revenues, including tuition. In that sense, increasing fund-raising for student aid benefits all students,” he said.

According to the fall 2009 GW Magazine, alumni graduate with approximately $10,000 more in debt than graduates of other private universities. The availability of increased financial assistance will lessen students’ dependence on expensive loans.

“In both ways, the help provided by fund-raising for student aid is immediate,” Knapp said.

“We will spend the funds as we are instructed and to meet the donors’ request,” Executive Director of Financial Aid Daniel Small said.

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