College Alumni Have An Obligation To Give Back To Their Alma Mater

by Hank Coleman

One of my favorite personal finance blogs that I read, Free Money Finance, recently got it all wrong when it discussed not giving back to the college you attended. 

Here were his reasons for not giving….

1. I paid/worked to go to school, didn’t I? So to ask me to now give is like asking me to donate to Walmart after I just purchased something there, isn’t it?

2. Aren’t I already giving by supporting schools in my state? Don’t public universities get money from the state government? Part of that is my money, FYI.

3. Don’t colleges ask current students to pay tuition? So why do they need money from me?

4. Aren’t there lots of other/better/more needy charities out there?

5. Aren’t many colleges simply building up bigger and bigger endowments with the funds donated?  Do I really want to give so a college can have a bigger nest egg?

And, here is why I think the comments above are out to lunch….

The money our tax dollars and college students’ tuitions provide colleges is still not enough to cover all the costs for a college’s materials, education, and research expenses.  Colleges need donations from its alumni to supplement its funding needs (see the funding equation below).  College students gave their time and money when they were undergrads, but they also reaped more than they put into the system as well, whether they had to take out loans or not.   

Tuition + State/Federal Tax Revenue + Endowment Interest Earned + Alumni Donations = ANNUAL Operating Expenses

Alumni should be ashamed not to give back when they are able to help a new generation of classmates earn a college diploma.  Why did you go to your college if you did not like the actual university?  Don’t you want to see it continue to thrive?  Don’t you want its reputation and esteem to continue to grow? 

Your college diploma on your wall is like a stock certificate.  It gains in value you’re your college excels and it depreciates when a drunken frat boy kills himself with booze.  The more that you can give back to your college invest in its future, its students’ futures, and the increasing value of your diploma.  You should give back monetarily, with your time through volunteerism, and any other way you can as soon as you can.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel Freysinger June 5, 2012 at 3:22 am

$21,000 for the first year. That is what I am paying to send my daughter to a state university. Meanwhile, they build climbing walls and talk of a new stadium. My daughter has been told right from the start. We are paying for a service. She owes that school nothing when she leaves other than a clean dorm room so she can get her deposit back.

Academia lives in some kind of fantasy land where they think they can disregard the burden they are placing on students and recieve loyalty in return. The current generation of students are going to be so burdened with debt that they won’t have the option to donate. Public universities should invest in people who have worked in the real world instead of being a place to hide for people who have never left academia.

Frank Fraguzzi May 20, 2014 at 5:13 am

You cannot be serious! Tuition has increased 4 times the rate of inflation. Administration salaries are above average in comparison to business leaders with similar responsibilities. Colleges and universities spend more money on beautification of the campus and physical comforts to attract more students than they do on the academic structure itself. College sports’ programs have become huge money-makers for large colleges and universities.
The average student leaves college owing more than $30,000 – and many owe beyond $100,000.
And you think it’s immoral not to give to our alma mater?

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