With Boise State setting personal records for increased enrollment over the past few years, donor scholarship funds for students haven’t kept up with the accelerated growth of the student body.
“We just can’t compete with other universities because we don’t have as much money,” said Renee Rehder, assistant director of Scholarships and Athletic Aid at Boise State.
Rehder explained schools with more alumni receive larger contributions for student scholarships and endowments.
“If you think about U of I compared to Boise State, U of I has been around for a hundred years, so they have years more donors, more donations and their endowment is larger,”
According to University Advancement, Boise State’s endowment in 2012 was $75,966,014. That same year, the University of Idaho had an endowment of approximately $208 million, over double that of Boise State’s, according to Chris Murray, Vice President of Advancement at the University of Idaho.
Rehder said many universities use profits from invested endowment accounts to pay for scholarships and other school expenditures.
While Boise State is growing quickly, Rehder said donor contributions need to match the rate of growth in order to provide scholarship opportunities to a wide pool of students.
“Our biggest trajectory upwards has been in the last five to 10 years,” Rehder said. “But we need more scholarship funds and so one initiative of University Advancement is to campaign for scholarships.”
Mike Journee has worked in the University Advancement office for the past two years and has been part of the annual campaign effort to convince individuals and private businesses to donate.
“One of the key ways we do this is talking to donors about how Boise State students use these scholarships,” Journee said. “Scholarships allow students to truly engage in all of the academic opportunities that Boise State has to offer them.”
Journee said scholarships play an important role in the overall success of students at any university.
“If a student has to work to pay for school, then that’s 20-40 hours per week that they are not spending focusing on school,” Journee said.
While there are a wide variety of donors to Boise State, Journee explained that contributors usually donate because they care for a specific cause.
“A lot of our alumni are big supporters, people who have a personal connection with Boise State whether that be fans of the football team, people interested in research for cancer or creating a better experience for business students, whatever it may be,” Journee said.
As athletic programs like football have put Boise State in the national spotlight, officials like Journee see exposure as a means to which the university can receive more donations.
“Football has really helped people pay attention to Boise State, people outside of Idaho that might not otherwise pay attention,” Journee said. “We are talking to these people not only about what our students do on the football field, but what they are doing in research and
education as well.”