The Challenge of Building Financial Aid
Each year, more and more students make the College at Penn their school of choice. This year a record 10,661 students applied for the College's approximately 1500 places. But often, some of the very best students who wish to go to the College go elsewhere because another school offered them a better financial aid package.
Recently, Penn's peer institutions updated their aid policies to offer more direct grant money in the place of loans and to change the way family resources are measured. These institutions are able to use restricted endowment for 35 to 98 percent of the money to fund these changes. At Penn, only five percent of the necessary funding comes from financial aid endowment.
Clearly, building the endowment for financial aid is a major fund-raising priority for the University, and especially within the School of Arts and Sciences and the College. Bringing the best students to the College is a critical step in keeping Penn among the world's most prestigious teaching and research institutions. Great students attract the finest faculty, and this partnership produces the next generation of leaders.
Providing more scholarship funds means increasing endowment, and the School currently has three "challenging" ways that alumni and friends can help--and enhance their gift at the same time.
The Trustees Challenge
Mitchell Blutt, C'78, M'82, WG'87, has always liked a challenge. As an undergraduate in the College, he created an individual major in the Psychology Department that was the forerunner of the current popular Biological Basis of Behavior major. Active in student government, Blutt served as vice chair of the Undergraduate Assembly for three years, was class president in his senior year, and cofounded the Graduate and Professional Students Association (GAPSA) while in med school. Even after leading student protests against budget cuts, he continued collaborating with University administrators and was eventually awarded the Spoon as the most outstanding graduate of his class.
Blutt studied medicine at Penn, spent his residency at the Cornell Medical School/New York Hospital, and then came back to Penn for an MBA at Wharton. His first position after Wharton was as an associate with a small fledgling venture capital fund.
Today Mitchell Blutt is the executive partner of the company now known as Chase Capital Partners, a $4 billion investment fund of Chase Manhattan Corporation.
When not engaged with investment strategies, Dr. Blutt serves on the Cornell Medical School faculty. He has recently become an SAS Overseer and a Penn Trustee. In this role, he has ventured some of his personal capital to increase the University's financial aid endowment.
Mitchell Blutt has issued a challenge--he has established a fund to match gifts (on a 1:2 basis) from alumni who have graduated since 1978. First-time donors making $50,000 gifts will become Penn Pals--donors to a program structured primarily to increase endowment. The program works like this.
Each of the first four yearly payments would be split, with $5,000 going to term support and $5,000 to endowment. The fifth and final payment of $10,000 would be added entirely to the endowment. To ensure that each donor has a personal involvement, the School encourages donor interaction with the student recipient during his or her College career. Students are encouraged to write to their donors and donors are invited to the annual Scholarship Donor Recognition event held on campus and in their region.
The Mellon Challenge for Graduate Fellowship Funding