At California Lutheran University, students’ tuition covers approximately 85 percent of what it costs to provide their education. The other 15 percent is paid by donations made to the school’s annual fund.
Tuition Free Day, which is hosted by the University Advancement Office and the Student Philanthropy Council, is a chance for students to thank donors for their contributions. The event will be held at the flagpole from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on March 5, a date chosen because it is approximately 85 percent through the school year.
Ariel Collins, annual fund administrative assistant, said students who attend the event can write letters and make posters to express their gratitude to the donors. They will also have the opportunity to participate in games and raffles to win prizes, such as gift certificates.
This will be the fourth annual Tuition Free Day. Feedback has been positive from donors contacted through this event in the past, said Steve Wheatly, vice president of university advancement.
“It does make a difference to the donors,” Wheatly said. “They do look forward to it. I know that I’m the contact person for several of the scholarships where the donors have passed on … I always enjoy reading the students’ notes because they’re from the heart.”
Tuition Free Day is a part of CLU’s Philanthropy Week, which includes other events such as restaurant fundraisers, a spirit day and an appreciation event for students who have contributed to the annual fund, Collins said.
The goal of the week is to help generate awareness amongst students about the annual fund and its impact, Wheatly said.
The annual fund is an unrestricted fund, which means that the money can go wherever the need is greatest, Collins said.
She said donations might be used for library books, or lab equipment, or scholarships and that CLU would be different without donor’s gifts.
“Tuition would be much higher,” Collins said. “We wouldn’t have the resources to keep the grass green and we wouldn’t have the resources to send students to study abroad and we wouldn’t have the resources to host summer programs.”
Senior Alex Virzi said he had not heard of the annual fund before, but that he does notice the impact donations make at CLU.
“The donations make a difference on campus and in the school’s ability to provide certain amenities a large university can’t offer, like small class sizes,” Virzi said.
Donations to the annual fund come from the community, alumni, parents, corporations and current students, Collins said.
Students are encouraged to contribute to the fund in the form of a class gift, which ranges in suggested amounts depending on a student’s year. Freshmen are asked to give $5, sophomores $10, juniors $15 and seniors $20.14, in honor of their graduation year.
Each semester, the classes compete against each other to raise the most money and the winning class receives a prize, Collins said.
Students are also offered individual incentives, like a “bleed purple, give gold” bracelet and recognition on the website.
Currently, about eight percent of students have donated, which is an increase from last year, Collins said.
Virzi said he will not join that eight percent while he still attends CLU.
“I feel my large tuition check is still enough contribution while I attend the school,” Virzi said. “After I graduate, I think I’ll make contributions to CLU.”
Whether they contribute or not, students are invited to attend Tuition Free Day to thank those who have donated.
Published Feb. 26, 2014