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The Spartan Scholarship Challenge: Making Opportunity Accessible

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Michigan State University has issued a unique challenge for alumni, donors and friends designed to make the most of scholarship gifts and dramatically increase the amount of aid available to MSU students in need.

 The Spartan Scholarship Challenge, which leverages a $7 million anonymous gift to MSU that recently made national news, to generate $21million in needs- and performance-based financial assistance for undergraduate students. The initiative, available only until Dec. 31, 2010, maximizes donors’ gifts through a $1 match for every $2 in new endowed scholarships.
 
“We’re excited about the opportunity provided by this anonymous gift,” said MSU Provost Kim Wilcox. “The donor’s generosity is inspiring. We hope it, in turn, inspires others to help the university expand support to deserving undergraduate students as they prepare for the future.”
 
The challenge will significantly build MSU’s endowment – the key to providing scholarship funds for students both now and in the future. For every two dollars a donor gives to a new scholarship endowment as part of the Spartan Scholarship Challenge, one dollar will be designated from the anonymous gift. 
 
“The steady stream of income generated from endowed funds provides the assurance the university needs to recruit and retain the best and brightest students and provide access to a world-class university education,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.
 
Donors who make a commitment of $20,000 or more will have the opportunity to create a permanent scholarship in their name or the name of someone they wish to honor. Typically, a minimum of $30,000 is needed to begin a named endowment. The match will apply to new endowment gifts of up to a total of $1 million per donor. Commitments to the challenge can be paid over a period of five years or less. Smaller gifts can be directed to a university-wide Spartan Scholarship Challenge Endowment.
 
“Michigan State University is a recognized leader in providing an affordable education and offering financial assistance to students in need,” said Joel Ferguson, chairman of the MSU Board of Trustees. “This match will help us to expand our ability to support more bright, talented, hard-working students of limited means.”
 
Unlike funds that are expendable, endowed funds have a lasting effect because the total amount of the gift is invested. Only a portion of the invested income earned is spent each year, preserving the principal.
 
Upon fulfillment of the Spartan Scholarship Challenge, MSU will be able to offer an estimated $1 million in new financial aid each year on a permanent basis, including aid for women and minority students.
 
The match opportunity expires when the $7 million made available through previous gifts has been exhausted or by Dec. 31, 2010, whichever comes first.
 
“When it comes to financing a college education, many students and their families are facing very tough decisions in this economy,” said Robert Groves, vice president for University Advancement. “At the same time, the importance of a college education has never been greater. We’re very hopeful that many members of the Spartan community will take advantage of this unique opportunity to help many generations of future students.”
 
Individuals interested in participating in the Spartan Scholarship Challenge can call University Scholarships and Fellowships at (517) 432-7332 or visit givingto.msu.edu/ssc.