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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

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UH to allocate more funds to scholarships


The Student Government Association passed a resolution in September that proposed to allot "20 cents to every dollar raised through the capital campaign" for financial aid.

Vice President for University Advancement Michael Rierson said he agrees with the SGA resolution.

"Scholarship support makes a great difference," he said.

Approximately 10 to 12 percent of fundraising is set aside for scholarships, Rierson

said. The University wants to raise more funds to allocate up to 20 percent of donations to scholarships, Rierson and SGA Vice President Sam Dike said.

Unless donors set restrictions on which college or program should receive the donations, money is evenly distributed among all colleges, Rierson said. Donors’ wishes are heeded in terms of allocating the money to a certain area of the University, he said.

Rierson did not specify when the SGA resolution would go into full effect, but said he is in support for the idea.

Wendy Adair, associate vice president of development communications, said sole finalist for UH System Chancellor and President Renu Khator needed to come in and set University goals. From there, prioritizing scholarship fundraising will be determined, she said.

Adair said she and Rierson suggested that the resolution’s wording be changed to focus more on scholarships so students will not have to pay back the money received.

Financial aid includes grants, loans and work-study while scholarships are based on merit, need based or a number of other criteria set by organizations or donors, according to Ask Shasta.

Completion of a free application for federal student aid can qualify students for some scholarships.

Dike said the SGA and Rierson have set a goal to raise more money for scholarships.

"We’re going to try and get donors to invest in scholarships whether endowed or expendable. We’re trying to build a culture of giving," Dike said.

Associate Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Eli Cipriano said the UH System raised $54 million for the 2006 fiscal year in donations from individuals, foundations and corporations.

UH raised more than $49.3 million of the total funds. For scholarships, $4.6 million was allotted and with $2.8 million going toward endowment scholarships and $1.8 million for expendable gifts.

Expendable donations are used right away and must be raised again, he said.

The donations are generally geared toward scholarships and capital construction, which includes repairs for buildings or other construction, Rierson said.

The Academic Affairs Office, where scholarship and financial aid awards are dispersed, then handles the money allocated for scholarships.

The deadline for financial aid is April 1 of every year, and then the University awards qualified students.

Rierson said UH has $500 million in endowment and has gotten a return on it, but he would not specify how much. An endowment is money raised from invested money.

The University’s general endowment has a 5 percent spending rate, he said, and the donor has the money returned to protect him or her from inflation.

Rierson compared endowments to the $30 million donation from the Cullen family in 1992. Since then, he said, the money has grown to $56 million.

Getting students to say thanks

Dike said the SGA plans to get more organizations, such as the Houston Alumni Organization, involved in raising more money for scholarships.

Dike said students could get involved with fundraising by hosting dinners for University donors, meeting with donors so they see where their money is going and "thank-you" events to show donors that students appreciate their donations.

"People want to see that their support had an impact," Rierson said. "It’s all about saying ‘thank you’ to the donors."

Associate Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Spencer Yantis agreed and said students should display their gratitude for the scholarship donations.

"As we talk to the donor, we have an obligation to the donor," Yantis said.†

Dike added that he wanted to start a senior gift project for UH seniors to give back to the UH community through time and donations.

"But I’m still doing research on it," Dike said.


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