It’s conventional wisdom that education is crucial; that scholarships are a huge part of paying for higher ed; and that donating to financial aid and scholarship programs is important. But, with so many messages out there, it’s often challenging to see just how supporting financial aid actually makes a difference.
At Scholarship America and throughout the financial aid world, we take our contributions seriously. Financial donations, volunteering or gifts in kind all support the mission to make postsecondary success possible for all students. A donation to financial aid doesn’t stop at administrative costs; every dollar donated ends up making an impact many times over. That dollar:
- Benefits an individual
A financial aid donation’s most direct impact is supporting a student -- not just for postsecondary access, but through a successful completion of a degree.
There are tangible benefits to the recipient post-college, too. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, employment rates and salaries for adults with at least a bachelor’s degree are generally higher than for adults without a bachelor’s degree. (Not only was this reported for young adults, but even those decades out of school.)
When the beneficiary is a student whose future we invest in, the pattern is consistent: higher education pays off.
- Benefits your community
A study from colleagues at Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia found that spending as little as $5 on someone else led to demonstrable increases in happiness. “In other words,” study contributor and professor Michael I. Norton said, “people needn't be wealthy and donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity to experience the benefits of prosocial spending; small changes -- a few dollars reallocated from oneself to another -- can make a difference.”
Multiply this with other givers in a community, and you potentially have a variety of health benefits, including increases in happiness and altruism, from a charitable gift.
And with a program like Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars, which includes more than 700 volunteer-driven chapters to help local students achieve their dream of higher education, a donation to a local organization keeps the money close to home. The cycle of giving and receiving locally increases the civic engagement and health of your community.
- Benefits our society
The College Board’s “Education Pays 2013” underscores these individual and collective benefits with fascinating statistics. Four-year college graduates pay, on average, 78% more in taxes each year than higher school graduates, thanks to their higher earnings and greater workforce participation. College grads are also reported to be healthier, due to smoking less, exercising more and having lower obesity rates. “These differences not only affect the lifestyles and life expectancies of individuals,” the report says, “but also reduce medical costs for society as a whole.”
The more we invest into financial aid for students now, the more advantages we’ll reap in the future. Consequently, as cliché as it may sound, just $1 can make a difference when you donate to financial aid.
Ultimately, the investment could mean that your gift changes a student’s life and a community’s well-being in innumerable ways -- and that, as a donor, is priceless.