Donate To Your College Alma Mater Or No? How To Make A Decision

Jon Stewart W&M Alumn - Ever Feel You Have To Donate To Your College Alma Mater?
Jon Stewart W&M Alum

Do you ever feel you have to donate to your college alma mater? It seems like every quarter, you get an e-mail from your alma mater asking for money. It sometimes feels weird because some colleges have massive endowments. For example, Yale University's endowment is more than $30 billion!

Recently I was contacted by an old college classmate to donate to our 15th reunion at The College of William & Mary. He told me our reunion fundraising goal was $500,000 and we're at about $323,000.

I told him, “Sure, no problem.” I then proceeded to forget about the pledge until I got the gift request in the mail. The solicitation gave me the options of giving $19.99, $50, $100, $250, $500, Other, or a 5-year pledge of $X. Payment methods included credit card, check, or donating directly online with the option of designating where my gift will go. Nice job making it easy for alumni to give guys.

Almost Donated, Until I Hesitated

I was all ready to write a check for $200, when I started thinking back to my interactions with my classmate. We studied abroad together in Beijing in 1997. I remember him hooking up with a girl right after I had hooked up with her a month earlier while we were still in Virginia! The girl and my ex and him were all going to Beijing.

It made for a somewhat awkward situation. Our small study abroad group ended up being dividend into two groups: 1) the super cool group, and 2) the not so cool group (his group and the girl of course).

By the time we landed in Beijing, I had already made amends with my ex-girlfriend. Therefore, it's not like I was jealous or angry at my classmate for messing around with this other girl.

It was just weird as can be – like a love trapezoid. As a young man, you're trained to emotionally move on quickly or else. Think back to your college days when it was just one big love fest. You don't recall? Hmm. Maybe it was just us then.

Anyway, thanks to the wrong reunion co-chair contacting me, I'm not so sure if I should give anything at all. Instead, I'd rather spend an hour writing this fun post and discuss the topic with all of you.

Donate To Your College Alma Mater Or No?

I absolutely loved my time at The College of William & Mary. For $2,800 a year, the education was an absolute steal in the mid-to-late 90s. The cost of tuition was the main reason why I decided to go to a public university.

Most people outside of Virginia think William & Mary is a private school. William & Mary hs a small undergraduate size (~5,000). It has a solid academic reputation. Further, its history as the second oldest university in the nation (established in 1693) gives it prestige. The campus is absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't be a prouder alumni.

Attending A Liberal Arts School

As a liberal arts school, William & Mary gave me the well-rounded education. I believe being well-rounded is important in today's ultra-competitive job market. Further, who you know is often more important that what you know.

When I was interviewing other candidates at Goldman, I remember us specifically looking for candidates who excelled in fields other than finance. We wanted to hire history majors, art majors, economics majors, athletes, pre-med students, international relations majors, and so forth who showed an interest in finance.

Coming in with a finance major, although useful, didn't carry much weight because we were already experts in finance. We wanted diverse minds.

We all know that getting a engineering or computer science degree are great majors for finding starting high paying jobs. Engineering majors make a starting salary of around $65,000, 30% higher than the national median starting college salary.

The debate of studying engineering lies in the upside potential for such graduates as they might get pigeon holed. Over 50% of my Berkeley MBA class were engineers who wanted to get out of their jobs. Their incomes were capped as “blue collar engineer soldiers.” They couldn't get on the more exciting and lucrative management track. Therefore, they went back to school.

Related: Should I Get An MBA To Find A Wealthy Husband Or Wife?

The Desire To Be Well-Rounded

By minoring in Chinese, majoring in Economics, studying abroad, and taking classes in religion, history, communications, math, science and golf, I felt like I was much more prepared to assimilate in the real world. I didn't know how to solve complex math problems in my head or build robots. However, I did know how to get along with people well.

Most of your practical skills will be taught on the job anyway. Don't underestimate the value of good social skills because people want to work with people they like.

Besides giving me the tools to function in a competitive environment, William & Mary also kept me and my parents out student debt. They put aside money each year since I was a kid for my college education. In the end, I didn't even spend 50% of what they had saved.

I believe it's better for high school students to attend smaller universities for undergrad and bigger universities for graduate school. The transition from being a restricted high school student to an absolutely free college student is a dangerous one. If you've been a sheltered nerd all your life in high school, it's easy to go crazy in college and get in a lot of trouble.

A smaller university helps put the pressure on students to be better members of the community. You also learn more with a smaller faculty to student ratio. When more people know more people, there's a smaller chance of students getting left behind.

For grad school, go to the biggest overall school possible to take advantage of the alumni network. The graduate program within the large university will still be small and intimate so you get the best of both worlds. People tend to gravitate towards and take care of people more similar to them.

If you're the only Yale grad among a pool of Berkeley candidates in San Francisco, you're going to have a much harder time getting the job.

There's not a lot of weight on the West Coast for The College of William & Mary because there's so few of us. But that's OK because I'm no longer looking for a full-time job any more. But it's nice to know that if I go back to the East Coast for work, perhaps I'll get a little more recognition.

It's Worth Donating To Public Universities

I am a big proponent of attending public schools because it costs much less than private schools. Further, the quality of education at many public schools is excellent.

I went to private school for 13 years overseas and then public school for 11 years, and I didn't really notice the difference in education. What I did notice was that there were a lot more rich kids attending private schools. Going to private school is NOT a reflection of society at large.

There is a massive student loan crisis right now that needs to be solved. If it's not, we're going to have a lost generation of folks who launch years later and retire years later as well. One easy solution to reducing student debt is to just spend less on a college education, especially since the internet is making education cheaper or free.

Check out Kahn Academy, Mooks, and MIT online courses as examples of free education. Of course there are incredible private schools around the country. I just wouldn't attend one if it's not ranked in the top 25, and/or you don't receive scholarships that make tuition equal to public school tuition. If you're rich, then who cares. Spend away.

Related: Should I Go To Public School Or Private School? It Depends On Your Fear And Guilt Tolerance

Declining State Budgets Her Public Universities

Unfortunately, state budgets have been severely mismanaged by politicians over the years that legislators have “no choice” but to slash education spending even though they don't slash their own pension programs. Our politicians have a great way of telling people what to do, without following their own rules. It's a shame given education is the key to so many things, including solving the widening economic inequality that will eventually break this country.

State School Funding Chart - Donate To Your College Alma Mater Or No?

Donate To Your College Alma Matter

Given William & Mary served me well, I'll donate some more money to the reunion fund. But hopefully this article will serve my alma mater even better with some publicity.

If you can get into a public school like William & Mary and pay in-state tuition, it's a no brainer to attend vs. paying out the nose for comparable schools like Duke, Georgetown, Yale, Harvard, Emory, and so forth unless you are rich or receive scholarships.

There are other great public schools such as Michigan, Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, CUNY, Georgia Tech, UNC-Chapel Hill, Texas, Wisconsin and more that provide top quality educations at a fraction of private school tuition as well.

If you are feeling the weight of student loan debt, then definitely don't donate to your school. If you graduated from college and couldn't find a job for an extended period of time, I wouldn't be in a rush to donate either.

Although a large part of getting a job and paying off loans is your responsibility, if you are going to pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, your school should do everything possible to help you land on your feet after graduation. And if you don't, I should hope schools will work out loan repayment plans that provide their alumni with a little bit more breathing room.

I hope this post has helped you decide whether to donate to your college alma mater or not. If your college alma mater is not something you are proud of, don't donate to your college. Donate your money to other worthwhile causes instead!

Related posts:

The Average Amount Donated To Charity Can Improve

Two Retirement Philosophies Will Determine Your Safe Withdrawal Rate

Tuition Hike For Students Is Like A Tax Hike For The Rich

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72 thoughts on “Donate To Your College Alma Mater Or No? How To Make A Decision”

  1. PhilanthroCapitalist

    As someone who’s majoring in Integrated Language Arts (think half-English, half-education with a TEFL certificate so I can teach English all over the world) with an interest in finance, it’s VERY interesting to see that you guys were looking for “more diverse minds.”

    Still, I doubt that saying “I read Financial Samurai” (or “I have a personal finance website, too”) is going to get me a job any time soon. Do you recommend any actual credentials besides maybe a minor?

    Concerning hook-ups, college is weird. One time my roommate and I were going after the same girl at a party. I immediately scoped her out. I got her number first and, since he was standing next to me while I was macking on her, I thought that meant he would back off.

    He didn’t.

    Later that night he got her number, too (and started texting her that night LMAO). We talked about it later and instead of saying, “bros before hoes,” he shook my hand and said, “May the best man win.”

    I told him that was fucking weird and I didn’t want to compete with him over her. Mostly because I’m a very competitive person and I knew that — as a matter of principle and not genuine interest — I wouldn’t lose.

    Maybe needless to say, I “won.”

    He could probably still hook up with her, though, if he didn’t have a girlfriend now — and at the time of that party, lol. College is college.

    I don’t blame you for not giving to your alma mater. I, for one, will NEVER give to mine. You can read more about it at my site (“How My University Fucked Me” @

  2. I graduated Arizona State in the mid 90s.

    Current dean(look him up) has persecuted the Greeks: literally bulldozed 2 entire frat rows & shoved sororities into dorms. Sicked campus Cops on all the off campus parties too, arrested hundreds (look it up too).

    Greeks are ~5% of undergrads & alum base.

    Now dean wants to raise money.

    Small problem: that 5% is probably is 85%? of alum net worth.

    Yep: dean done pissed off the money. ASU is on the informal “do not donate” list among the 30k of us Greek alum out there. We got list servs and email too ya know.

    Not smart mr. dean, no money for you. Biting that hand that will not give ya a penny.

  3. I haven’t given anything to either of my alma maters (in this case Michigan and William and Mary) since I paid for my degree up front in tuition costs. I will support causes that are immediately present/noticeable in my life (say public radio or my school’s charity drives) but it seems odd to give more to institutions that each received over 30k from me. Colleges are a business in their own right, so cut administrative costs, or else find a way to sustain the model over the long haul, rather than squeezing alums.

  4. green_knight008

    While I’ve been asked multiple times, I do not see a point ever where I would donate to the Federally Funded Land Grant State University that I graduated from-at least not directly. My taxes already fund them, and since I worked there while going to college (in an actual job, not one of those student aid type ones) I happen to know how much money they wasted (easy 35%-and this is actually a school that ran a pretty tight ship financially.)
    I much prefer to give my charitable money to someone who A). needs it and B). won’t waste 1/3 to 1/2 of the money. I do not see the University system as either of these. Kiva? Sure. Alma mater? Not in this lifetime, unless some serious changes are made within the college education system regarding waste and cost reduction.

  5. I’ve given in the past, but not as often as I should. I did some fundraising cold calls when I was in school, and it was certainly tough to get alums to donate. I imagine it’s even harder these days to get funds with tuition being crazy expensive and alums feeling they already paid more their fair share. Homecoming is a good time to motivate people to donate though when they are reminiscing and on site. We owe a lot to our schools and even if we can’t spare the budget to donate every year, we can aim to give a little back every couple years.

  6. A great solution is a charitable gift annuity. You donate as little as $5,000 and live off the higher than average interest. When you die, they get the face amount.

  7. Went to the University of Washington and have never considered donating to my alma mater. That is I never considered donating until I wanted to purchase football and basketball tickets. Everyone pays about the same for season tickets but if you want to sit in a good section, better be donating over $1000. No donation and you’re in the nose bleeds.

  8. I’m still studying, but I guess I’ll donate after I finish my undergraduate career, they’re going to need it. I’m lucky, because every public university in Australia has capped fees and you won’t pay more than $6000 a year for the liberal arts and its deferred on loans that are just indexed to inflation. It’s a shame for those starting next year because our crazy federal government has plans to uncap fees for universities and charge real interest. Some have speculated the fees could more than triple at my university (they’ll be allowed to charge up to what they charge international students, $26000 in my case). They’re going to need scholarships to absorb an increase like that…

  9. Mary Washington– BA, BS
    Virginia Tech DVM

    I donate to both my alma maters. Couldn’t be prouder to have gone to both schools– however, my dream was W & M (go Tribe!) but only made the waiting list.

    The future is in our schools. Good ones deserve support.

  10. Awesome post! As someone who attended a public university for undergrad and then worked as a fundraiser for a university, I couldn’t agree with you more. Mr. FW and I met during undergrad at our cheap, public university and neither of us would trade that experience for anything. I actually did the opposite of what you recommend–I went huge for undergrad and much smaller for grad school. It worked extremely well for me and I came out of both with no debt whatsoever. Public universities offer top-notch education at a fraction of the price. What more could you want?

  11. I won’t donate. My state uni did very little to help me outside of school. I went back as an employer wanted to recruit from the same department I graduated from. The head of the department cared so little that they didn’t even tell their students we’d be there at the job fair on campus. I refuse to give to a school who cannot be bothered to let their students know what opportunities were available.

    1. My son went to our state’s flagship public university and the placement office there did nothing to help him with neither internships nor jobs after college. He found his own internship which I firmly believe helped him get into a different school for his master’s degree. He had a job commitment 2 months before he completed his master’s program which he also found on his own. He got a good education at the public university, however they really sucked when it came to placement assistance.

  12. One more comment regarding engineers. It’s very easy to distinguish between mediocre and superstar engineers. I think those like myself and probably from your MBA class probably realized this early on and wanted to make a change since we saw salary growth limitations. For the truly gifted technical person, the upside compensation potential is unlimited. They probably don’t even need to go to college, so if they donate, it’d be just because they want to.

  13. Engineering degree combined with MBA at a top 10 school. That would be my recommendation for any engineering undergrad. Also it’s funny how selfish and hypocritical we are as guys, especially when we were young. I did my fair share of casual relationships just like it sounded like you have. However as you’ve previously written, I don’t want my little girl to date guys like us when she’s older.

  14. k@Masters Of Our Own Dollars

    I don’t think my school, Western Governors University, has ever asked me for money. I get plenty of post cards with codes that waive the application fee to hand out, but no money requests. This post made me curious so I went to the website and couldn’t find a single “donate” link. At less than $6,000/year my private non-profit school was a great bargain, and as far as I can tell they haven’t raised their tuition in almost five years. If they did ask for money I’d probably donate and feel like I was donating to a charity because sure, they charge for their services, but per-credit it was cheaper than the local community college.

    If you’re wondering how they keep it so cheap, it’s an all online school. No sport teams, no gyms, no fancy landscaping, just a central office for some of the administration stuff and a bunch of staff scattered around the country working from home. And yes, it’s fully accredited. Might not be a great experience for most recent high school grads but for working adults it was perfect.

  15. What Have You Done for Me Lately?

    I had a great time in college and I got a great education. My parents spent a fortune paying for my Stanford education. They made too much for me to get any financial aid, but they certainly weren’t independently wealthy by any means. I am so grateful as their sacrifice allowed me to graduate without any student loan debt. I did my part by getting an on-campus job during the school year and summer jobs to pay my freight. I hope that I can help my kids defray their educational costs.

    When I get solicitations, I just chuck them. When some alums are giving 9 figure+ donations to the school, my puny contributions would barely pay for watering some of the perfect landscaping on campus.

    Root for your school team and leave the donations to the big shots.

  16. I think you are on the right track to donate. I don’t think you have to give a ton, but the act of giving is a good habit. I prefer to give to organizations I feel a connection with. And college is certainly a potential place for this…especially when you seem to be so positive on W&M. If not your school to make tuition more affordable, find something.

    I’m suspicious when people don’t give anything, and have a nice clean argument for why not – that doesn’t include being a little selfish. Maybe their explanation is everything, but still I’m suspicious. I know comments here were only talking about college giving, so not trying to attack anyone here. And I am certainly selfish in many ways – just think its worth being honest w ourselves.

    I think everyone should find a passion that doesn’t include profit. Selfishly, it improves your life.

  17. My experience in college was great and I was the recipient of a lot of alumni-powered scholarships, so I don’t mind paying that forward. But right now, I’m more focused on the debt piece and getting to where I feel like we’re on a good path. Until then, maybe I can talk them into keeping the alumni magazine they send me every month. That should save them a buck or two a month, right?

  18. I don’t have any plans to donate to my previous schools – they were paid the tuition they asked for, I got my education and now we’re done. They still send out mailings to me, though.

    I have a friend who works in a support position in academia and tells me of how much money is regularly wasted (and sometimes outright stolen) there. Given that, I feel good about my choice; the charity I support instead (ChildFund) makes far better use of the money than a university could.


    I feel no obligation to donate to my University. I paid a price to go the University and in return received a service (i.e. education and diploma). I prefer to donate to causes that lack funding and endowments which are at a level to sustain themselves through proper management.

  20. Financial Forager

    My wife and I constantly get money requests from our Alma Maters. They got enough of our money. With the price of tuition today, most of these colleges are making more then enough money. If they keep it up, no one will be able to afford college. It will be something only for the wealthy.

  21. I have a greater sense of allegiance to the high school that I went to. But, I also like to have good NCAA football seats.

  22. I went to a large (25,000 FTE) public university part-time for 7 years before graduating. I feel no particular tie to it although I continue to live in the same city. Sports are not of interest to me so no pull there.

    I’ve spent the last 15 years trying to get OFF of mailing lists and won’t be getting on any alumni lists.

  23. I went to one of those tiny liberal arts schools…one that just happened to be ranked as the 2nd most expensive school in the country when I graduated in 2010. With parental assistance, I paid full tuition–akin to buying a house. While I strongly value education and know that my school’s endowment is negligible, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to fork over one more penny. (I’m sure I’d feel differently if I was a financial aid recipient or got a full ride.) It also has to do with the fact that I received zero career support and no recruiters came to campus. I managed to claw my way in to Wall Street, but nearly everyone else in my group of friends ended up at home living with their parents.

    My school IS rather good at soliciting donations, however. About once a month, I get a call saying that the goal is 100% class participation, and that even $1 counts. It’s a good strategy–nobody wants to be the jerk who ruined it for everybody!

    1. Zero career support is a SHAM, especially if you guys paid over $200,000. Where is the responsibility of the college to help find students jobs with that much tuition?!

      Once a month is way too much imo.

      Enjoy Wall St. Let me know when you’re thinking of getting out!

  24. Nope. They got my tuition out of me. What more do they need? My mechanic doesn’t come back to me a decade after fixing my car and ask for a donation, either. Neither does my plumber or electrician or accountant.

  25. I went to a public school in CA. I haven’t donate to the school yet. My excuse is that I’ll donate when I die. :) By then I won’t need the money anymore and hopefully there will be some left over for the school. At this time, it’s a bit tight to donate to the school.

  26. Through no fault of your own, the main point of your article was lost for me after your aside concerning engineers in MBA programs. I happen to be one of those types who surveyed the career landscape before and during undergrad and selected chemical engineering major as the most lucrative 4 year degree (save petroleum engineering -too specialized for my liking and not available in state) based on starting salary.

    Around junior year of engineering school, I began to realize that compensation curves for engineering and business professions are very different, as you pointed out. I essentially decided before graduating that once my engineer’s salary curve started to flatten out, my best strategy would be to hop onto the business curve, which in theory should be starting its growth phase. As of today (7 years post graduation), I have been accepted into an MBA program at U of Washington (tied with Vanderbilt for USNews #25 B-School) which starts in two months and will take a total of 18 months to complete. I will be a full time student while working full time as an engineer.

    Lately, I have been feeling less confident about my decision to switch tracks, but suspect this is just my natural tendency to maintain homeostasis. I have perused your articles on MBA’s and wasting time etc. and figure that because my employer (Fortune 10 company) will pay for all or most of the program fees, and I will not be missing out on any income during the program, I have no tangible reason not to proceed as planned. The only real risk then, is that I am wasting my time and energy for an insufficient return. I would appreciate any insight you have gained, anecdotal or otherwise, from your experience obtaining an MBA and the experiences of your engineer classmates as to the benefits that can be realized by earning an MBA as an early to mid-career engineer. Thanks Sam, I have enjoyed your site very much and frequently.

    Also, I have yet to give back to my Alma Mater.

    1. If your company is paying for it, and you still have lots of energy, I’d do the MBA for sure.

      You won’t waste your time b/c you will adapt and learn. Going to b-school while working was a amazing b/c the professors were like my private consultants during business and career situations.

      1. Thanks for your input I am kind of in the same situation. Graduated with an Electrical Engineering undergrad in 2012 and my current company is sponsoring my Masters in Engineering from U of M which I am almost halfway through. After that they will give me a full ride MBA at Indiana University because I have completed a technical masters. I acquired quite a bit of debt from student loans but I have already knocked most of it out and like you said I wont be acquiring any more debt for education. Some days I almost wonder if it will all pay off in the end.

  27. I paid off my student debts within 3 months of completing my PhD, and have been out of school for almost 3 years. Haven’t donated a penny. Not that I harbor any ill will towards the university, (and I would suggest it to those high schoolers looking to get into my line of work) but I paid out of pocket for my BS, MS and PhD. The way I view it, I paid for the credits in exchange for a degree, so our economic exchange is complete.

    I don’t feel a need to support public education, I’d rather support my children directly. That’s why we make the sacrifice to live with one income so my wife can homeschool my kids, and why I will help subsidize their higher education, whether its college or a trade. Why donate to public education where my kids might see a few pennies on the dollar return, when I can help them dollar for dollar and the school in question gets the money dollar for dollar as well?

    1. Sounds like a logical argument to me. Maybe donating to college is only for the very wealth then? Given, if we can better help our kids and ourselves, we would need LESS support from others.

  28. There isn’t anything you can learn from college that you can’t learn from a book or the internet. College is a business. You suffer through the inane minutia that you’ll never need for your working life in order to get a very expensive piece of paper, allowing you to pass “GO” into your first corporate interview. I could program in high school, and was plenty capable then of getting the job I got after graduating in computer science. Unfortunately, society has the stigma that without the magical piece of paper you pretty much won’t get a good job. Unless you’re an entrepreneur, which is definitely the way to go if you don’t want to be a cog in a machine your whole life.

    1. oh yes – my point, that is I would NEVER donate to my college. Would you donate to Chipotle after they made you a delicious burrito?

  29. My school (UW – Milwaukee) constantly mails me asking for donations. Considering how they screwed me over plenty of times all for more money while I was in school, I will never ever recommend them to anyone ever and will gladly talk anyone out of going there (though I must admit they got pretty creative, and pretty cruel, at times, if that’s what one would want in their college). I still talk to my counselor – he was fantastic at guiding me along in my course schedule as I had a heavy load – but beyond that, I made few friends as hard as I tried, none of whom I am in touch with today (this saddens me). Overall, I thought high school was terrible, but college was terrible, too. But it was also great because it was a repeated punch in the face to teach me about the real world and what problems might arise, and how to possibly deal with them. So while in hindsight I appreciate the rough road for what it taught me, I refuse to pay in any extra for the lessons. My money has better places to go, like the student loan debt I still have.

    1. Sorry HS and college was so terrible! I had a so-so time in HS b/c I was the new kid freshman year having lived overseas all my life. But college was so fun. Ah, the memories.

      1. Sam, one thing I wish I would have done back in HS (or heck, college) was say hi to the new students, even more so the ones from faraway places. I was such an awkward social outcast and it was very lonely, and I love traveling, so I think the friendships could have potentially blossomed. Or at least, we each would have gone through HS with another friend or two to talk to. I try to keep this in my mind these days, though it’s a bit harder to pick out the new people at work or in the neighborhood, and despite my super introverted nature, I think my forwardness when I do try to say hi has scared people off (maybe because it wasn’t in instant message/texting format?). Someday maybe I’ll grow out of being socially awkward! Til then, I’ll fake it til I make it I guess. :)

        1. Yeah, I hear you. Having good relationships you can count on is the best.

          There’s always a shot of liquid courage ya know? I think the older we get, the more easy it is to talk to people because we’ve already found our comfort zone and are used to things.

  30. I had a great time in a small school, and wish I could have stayed 7 years like Van Wilder. For a few years afterwards I did donate, specifically to an underfunded sports team, and tried to set an example for the current team by handing them checks and thinking that maybe they would do the same when they graduated.

    Not long after I graduated, the school spent amazing amounts of money on capital projects, including panoramic ocean-view apartments! Unlike our host FS, students wouldn’t be able to replicate that lifestyle for decades, if ever, after graduation! And a very high percentage of the student body was international, and would take their subsidized education and experience back to their home countries. The final straw was when I was hit up by a former teammate for a significant contribution in 2003. This was when the S&P 500 cratered 50% (the first time), and the U.S. was just about to invade Iraq, and here was my school attempting to raise $500,000 to build a stadium tennis court! Oh, and the institution wound up paying huge amounts of money for a very Sandusky-like situation; so alumni contributions were in effect replacing money lost in a civil judgment. NOT A PRIORITY FOR ME!:-)

    Like you, Sam, the alum doing the “ask” was the wrong guy. He had inherited quite a bit of money, made quite a bit on his own, and couldn’t resist rubbing everyone’s face in it. He implied that he could fund the whole thing himself with a check, and my question was “then why are we having this conversation?” Anyway, the school is far in my rear-view mirror, costs orders-of-magnitude more than when I attended, and provides nothing like my experience. I have found other worthy places to give in which to support my satisfactions.

    1. Wow.. sounds like you went to a Country Club school! Admit it! You were living the dream since a very early age! :)

      Still props to you for playing college tennis. I will have to do some drop shot lobbing if we play to equalize.

      I would have told the alumni asking to match me 10:1 or every dollar I donated. Bingo!

  31. I haven’t given to my school. The way I’ve come to look at it is that we (my college and I) had a contract back then. My school educated and gave me a diploma, I attended classes, learned and paid my way. Contract is over.

    While I have gratitude for my school and experience, I have 2 young boys that will probably go to college sometime in the future. I’m donating to my guys 529 plans instead with the hope that they can get an education without being saddled with too much debt.

    There is a huge difference when I went to school – I went to an in-state public school and could pay for my 4+ years with summer and part-time work. Looking at the average tuition for the same school today – no can do. I have a hard time contributing to a system where tuition is rising faster than any other product or service….

    1. Is donating to your 529 plan really donating though? That’s like donating to my savings account :)

      It is good to take care of your family first. Shocking how expensive tuition has grown.

  32. Jay @ ThinkingWealthy

    While I love my school, I don’t donate back to it. Even with the spending cuts, the increases in tuition (as the school grows in rank) more than offset budget cuts. Plus the business school I went to there is bankrolled by one very wealthy individual who just recently paid for half of our brand new business building (even though the old one was still the nicest on campus)!


  33. I feel that I’ve given my school enough money already (I’m still paying for it) so I don’t think I’m going to donate money any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, I like the school I attended and would recommend it to anybody because it is a small state school, but they me take a lot of classes that I didn’t need just to fill some type of requirement… and take my money. Thanks, but no thanks.

  34. I gave some money to my college for a few years a while back. A pretty insignificant amount. But I never felt obligated since they got a lot of my family’s money in the form of tuition and room and board.

  35. While proud to be an alumnus of my college and glad I went there and benefitted of a great education, I feel no need to give back to them at this point. I (well my parents) gave plenty for four years. I have limited charitable dollars, and I prefer to direct them to places that have greater needs to me. My university (though it claims poverty) like many has a huge endowment that keeps growing and spends way more on administration than I think necessary. Its spending does no match my desire for how my funds should be used.

    But that is just me, to each their own. We don’t have to support the same charities or educational institutions.

    And not donating certainly doesn’t mean I do not appreciate the education I received.

    The older I get the more you wish for your charitable dollars to line up with your values and way of thinking. Unfortunately the way colleges spend money these days, it is not in line with my way of thinking. Obviously, this may change.

  36. My freshman year I worked as a telemarketer calling alumni and parents to ask for donations. It was tough because we were told to ask for $200 and then drop it down if they balked. I didn’t like that strategy because many just hung up or were turned off. I eventually asked for small amounts and people were much more open in donating. Anyways, I went to a state school and I did donate a few times as I enjoyed my time there and because I empathized with the callers. When my law school calls for donations, I tell them I’ll donate when I’m done paying my student loans (another 17 year or so). Plus it wasn’t even a fellow student calling…they outsourced it to some call center.

    1. Hmmm… I would definitely NOT donate if the solicitor was not an alumni or working for the school. Screw that. Personal touch folks!

      Great to hear you will be donating to your law school in 18 years.

  37. I went to university of colorado, a rather large school. They always ask me to donate, but they haven’t really done much for me. I didn’t receive a much support out of college, but I didn’t go looking for it either. I am glad it worked out the way it did getting into real estate and not the corporate world, but more direction from my school would have been nice.

    The ask me to donate all the time, but when I sent them an email asking about supporting my blog with a link or if websites are linked to the alumni directory they never responded back to me. That helped me determine how much I should donate.

      1. Yes, I saw it mentioned somewhere one of the easiest ways to get an EDU link is to check with your Alma mater and see if the alumni directory will link to your website. If you donate it gives you a much better chance! My sister teaches physics at a local university and I asked her about getting me a link, but the school wants $1,000 donation. I’m thinking about that one still, be easier if I had actually gone to that school!

  38. I’d exercise some caution. Once you donate once, you will be targeted mercilessly with mail, email and phone calls to give more. It’s like going to India and starting to give coins to beggars, within a short time you get swamped!

    I went to Johns Hopkins and end up using about 5% of what I learned while working from year to year, but the catch is that I never know which 5% it’s going to be!


  39. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    $2,800 a year?! In my town there’s this hang up on “name brand” schools. It’s only in retrospect that I realize how stupid it all is. Me and my two brothers all went to top/name brand universities NOT in state- and none of us have had a big ROI. Now baby sister is at UCONN and will probably out earn us all.

    1. Yeah, even back in 1995 when I was a freshman, we thought $2,800 was a fantastic deal. But dang, just checked, and not so cheap anymore! At least you have a nice shiny piece of paper that is a private school!

      IN-STATE Entering 2014-2015
      Tuition 12,428
      Fees 5,228
      Room & Board 10,344
      Books, travel and incidentals 3,050

  40. I have given to my undergraduate alma mater’s scholarship fund every year since my senior year. The school gave me a full scholarship, and though I do not feel I HAVE to donate, it is just my way of showing gratitude and paying back. That first year while still a student, it was only $25, but I increased the amount as I earned more, and then decreased after retiring early.

  41. At this point in life (4 years out of college, 1 year out of grad school) I don’t feel responsible to give back to my alma maters. When I’m out of student loan debt (1 more year!!!), I may change my answer.

    If/when I donate to one or both, I’ve questioned who should get my money. Undergrad: Very large established state school, didn’t receive any aid or scholarships. Grad: Mid-size private school with emerging grad program, received full tuition scholarship. Right now I’m leaning toward donating to my grad school to give someone else the opportunity I did. Without that scholarship, I never would have been able to go.

    1. I have a feeling that once you get out of debt, you will have a desire to invest and save as much as possible to “catch up” instead of donate bck to your alma mater! Let me know in one year.

      But then again, well done on receiving a full tuition scholarship. Why are you in student loan debt?

      1. Just over 3.5 years of living expenses + books + bar prep/exam = $45k. Unfortunately, almost all of my work experience during school was unpaid. Not enough hustle in my game. I’m excited that I’ll have it all paid off in nearly half the time it took to incur!

        And yes, I have a lot of investing and saving to do!

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