Lander University is preparing to actively promote its annual fund, emphasizing the importance of contributions to help the university deal with challenges stemming largely from steadily shrinking state financial support. The initiative will also enable Lander to increase scholarship assistance and spare graduates from having to face years of paying off student loans.
It is called the Forever Lander Fund and the goal is to persuade alumni and friends of the university to make annual contributions to existing scholarships or to create scholarships of their own.
Myra Greene, a 1978 Lander graduate and director of Alumni Affairs, has accepted additional responsibilities as director of Annual Giving and will manage the new program. Forever Lander's official kickoff will come at a donor appreciation event on Thursday, Sept. 12 at the Jeff May Complex on Montague Avenue.
Greene said, "Annual giving supports Lander's diverse needs and helps students by strengthening the university's scholarship program." She added that students need financial assistance to avoid the burden of repaying student loans after graduation.
Her point is underscored by the New York Federal Reserve Board, which reported earlier this year that student loan debt has ballooned to such a level that it is now the largest form of consumer debt, second only to home mortgages. The board said, in addition to diplomas, nearly 90 percent of graduates leave college with outstanding loan balances ranging as high as $50,000. Another 4 percent of graduates have balances greater than $100,000.
According to the report, loan repayment has a negative impact on the economy. It said graduates are putting off buying homes and cars or making other large consumer purchases because a large portion of what they earn goes to pay off student loans.
Greene said it is also a problem for families when parents are forced to budget part of their incomes to repay loans they took out to pay for their children's college education.
She said contributions to the Forever Lander Fund will allow the university to make more scholarship money available and offer students a quality education while enhancing the value of their degrees.
The goal of the campaign is to stimulate a steady flow of donations by persuading alumni and others to commit to making annual gifts to the fund.
Ralph Patterson, Lander's vice president for University Advancement, said, "We are grateful to our loyal donors who give every year. We have accomplished a great deal with their help, but we need to broaden our base of donors because our students deserve our support."
Greene said there are several options available to donors, including establishing a funded scholarship with an annual gift of as little as $200.
More information about giving to the Forever Lander Fund can be obtained by contacting Greene at 864-388-8350 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.