In 2003, one out of every 13 college alums gave their university with a monetary gift. In 2013, only 8.7 percent of college grads donated to their alma mater. What’s up with the decline? Well, it’s a mix of “They’ve already taken enough out of my pockets!” and “Sorry — I just don’t feel I have any loyalty to my university.”
Let’s start with the latter sentiment first. About 25 percent of students have attended more than one college, so the question of “Which university should I align myself with?” gets hazy. And that, according to CNN Money, is a key reason why higher education institutions are experiencing a dearth of generous alums.
“What motivates alumni to give is a sense of loyalty, an indebtedness that ‘I am who I am because of my education,'” said Shaun Keister, vice chancellor for alumni relations at the University of California.”What we don’t know from this generation that jumps around a lot is: Are they ever going to have that warm and fuzzy feeling for the campus?”
The answer to that, Ms. Keister says, is no.
“So let’s say you went to three different places undergrad, and then to grad school — because we have more people going to grad school, too. Now you’ve been to four schools. Where’s your love? Where’s your affinity? Where’s your passion?,” said Brian Kish, SVP for central development at the University of Arizona Foundation.
At elite universities, the transfer rate is much lower — more students immerse in the whole four-year experience at one institution, so they’re more likely to give back. But at middle-and-lower tier schools, where most of the transfers occur, getting a hold of alumni donations is quite the challenge.
But critics say that CNN Money is missing one crucial point: Many students feel wiped out dry from their alma maters, so why on earth would they willingly donate more money after paying all that money in tuition, books, room, board, student loans, and more?
“I don’t donate to any of my college alma maters. They got enough money from me when I was going there – some I’m still paying back. I went to a large public university for undergrad and was charged through the nose for services I didn’t even use,” one CNN Money poster wrote.
“Donating money to the college you went to makes about as much sense as donating money to a bank. Thanks, but no thanks,” another commented.
The price of higher education is undeniably too high. And college alumni equate the idea of donating to their alma mater as the same as giving one’s hard-earned cash to a pick-pocketing crook.
Do you think generous alums are scarce because of the transfer rate or the high costs of education? Have you donated to your alma mater?