By Mary Hicks, Director of External Relations
Last year we received a stunning $14 million gift from the estate of Charles and Myrtle Stroud to endow scholarships in CLA; by all accounts a windfall for our students. But it made me wonder, with this sudden infusion of scholarship money, what would be the impact on students with financial need?
I asked our scholarship administrator to provide a profile of our scholarship recipients to help me better understand who these students are and what kind of challenges they face in paying for school. I was surprised by what I learned, and I think you might be surprised, too.
• CLA scholarship recipients are among the nation's most qualified students. Their average ACT score is 30. Their class rank is 95%.
• A third of our scholarship recipients are the first in their families to attend college.
• Just over half are from Minnesota.
• 90% of our scholarship recipients have financial need of $10,000 or more, and 55% of those students have a need greater than $15,000.
• Over the course of four years, the average CLA student borrows more than $26,522 in loans to make ends meet, or just over $6,000 annually. If you add PLUS (parent) loans, the number jumps to $29,949, or almost $7,500 annually.
• The average size of a CLA scholarship is $2,500.
• Tuition for the 2011-12 school year is $13,060; add in the cost of room, board, and books and the total cost of attendance for a Minnesota student is $23,982. A student would have to work more than 60 hours a week year round at minimum wage to pay their own way.
What do these numbers mean to me? First, I am as convinced as ever that we can award scholarships to students who have significant need while upholding high academic standards. Many of our most talented students simply cannot afford to enroll without considerable financial aid. Second, scholarships help CLA keep Minnesota's brightest students in the state, and give first generation college students the boost they need to achieve their dream of earning a college degree.
Finally, these numbers demonstrate that, in the words of President Eric Kaler, "We have work to do." The Strouds' generous endowment gift of $14 million will make a remarkable contribution to the lives of our students. But we would need $14 million in cash every year to award scholarships to every student with need. The numbers are staggering. This is why CLA's External Relations office focuses so much of our energy on fundraising for scholarships and fellowships. You can learn more about how charitable giving supports CLA online.