Whittier College will grant nearly $1 million in scholarships per year to “continuing students with unmet financial need” using $12 million donation from Mackenzie Scott.
Whittier College ended 2020 with a $12 million donation from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott. The donation was part of an effort from Scott to ally with organizations that share her values of promoting racial and gender equity, LGBTQIA+ rights, economic mobility, climate change prevention, and more. According to Scott’s Medium post detailing her reasons for donating to her chosen organizations, Whittier College seems to exemplify her dedication to funding “education for historically marginalized and underserved people.”
Today, Tuesday, Feb. 2 Whittier College announced its new economic relief scholarships aimed at low-income third-year and fourth-year students, which will use a portion of Scott’s donated funds. In creating these scholarships, the College hopes to provide “equitable access to higher education” by “granting additional financial aid to our neediest students,” according to College President Linda Oubré.
One million dollars of aid per year will be distributed in two forms to qualifying third-years and fourth-years only. Third-years with household incomes under $50,000 will receive up to $5,000 in scholarship. Fourth-years with the same household income will receive scholarships up to $8,000. One million dollars worth of scholarships will be granted each year to qualifying students for the upcoming six years.
According to the College, 194 students qualify for these scholarships based on these aforementioned income levels. These 194 recipients will have their scholarships added to their account and receive further information of their scholarships via email from the Office of Financial Aid. Those who qualify should receive an email and others who would like more information can contact the Office of Financial Aid by email at email@example.com.
This scholarship opportunity, which comes a little over a month after receiving Scott’s donation, is part of the College’s plan to contribute to social equity and “help the College now,” as President Oubré told the Quaker Campus in December. Whittier College has a diverse student population; 69 percent are students of color. “Need-based scholarships for students [contribute] to equity, racial equity, social mobility, but also it helps us with our financial sustainability as an institution,” said President Oubré.
The remainder of the $12 million donation will support the College’s Racial Justice and Equity Action Plan, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Gender Equity Center, environmental justice work, faculty diversity efforts, and new programs, according to the Whittier College Instagram. The donation is unrestricted, meaning the school itself manages how to spend it and additionally has no deadline for when to use the funds.
Some students have voiced concerns about the College’s scholarship plan. Fourth-year Cynthia Rodela argued that students of middle income should also receive scholarships. “Including middle-class students, a lot are struggling with paying or struggled to pay their tuition this year. Many students didn’t even get a stimulus check. I feel that helping students in this way is a bigger priority than planning future programs because it is uncertain when the pandemic will become manageable enough to return to campus to participate in these programs,” said Rodela, through an Instagram comment on the Whittier College official Instagram.
Fourth-year Bela Vargas also voiced opposition to the way the remaining 12 million of the donation may be spent. “All these other plans should be put on hold until students can ACTUALLY be on campus, any financial support the school can provide should go to students who need funding to continue [their] degree. Through my senior project and survey I’ve created, a lot of current students from all years are feeling unheard by the school and I think this is a prime example. Although I think this funding is a great step forward, there is more Whittier College can do with this money to help your students,” said Vargas.
In December, around the time Scott donated $12 million to Whittier, seven percent of Whittier College students identified “financial hardship” as their biggest contributor to a harder school year. Given that the U.S. GDP dropped to its lowest ever in July, “unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession,” and over 85 percent of Whittier College students receive “some form of aid,” these scholarships are likely to positively impact students in need. With less tuition to worry about, students will be able to pay for their books and other school supplies and will, hopefully, perform better academically.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Emerson Little/ Quaker Campus.
Annalisse Galaviz is the News Editor for the Quaker Campus. She has worked for the paper since 2018 in former roles as a copy editor and news assistant. She likes writing about hard-hitting current events and, naturally, spends most of her time on political Twitter so she can do this. Assuming she has free time, she enjoys writing bad poems and fiction stories.