Alumni Association pledges $1.5 million in scholarships for Penn State students

January 17, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Continuing its long history of philanthropy to the University, the Penn State Alumni Association has pledged a gift of $1.5 million to support student scholarships across Penn State over the next five years. This pledge supports Penn State’s upcoming fundraising initiative, "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," which includes as one of its core priorities a commitment to broad scholarship support.

“We believe in Penn State students collectively as the foundation and future of this great University,” said Alumni Association President Kevin R. Steele, 1992g. “This gift provides an opportunity for us to recognize students individually in a way that we hope eases their financial concerns, helps them stay focused academically, and shows them that their alumni family supports their success.”

Proceeds for the gift will come from the Alumni Association’s Margin of Excellence Fund, an endowment established in 2000 to support major gifts to the University. The $1.5 million pledge will be paid over five years at a rate of $300,000 annually.

“Penn State alumni have an unparalleled commitment to our students and University. They are always ready to step up to mentor our students, collaborate with our faculty and staff, and provide generous financial support for our students in need,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “On behalf of the University community, I offer my sincerest appreciation to the Alumni Association for this extraordinary gift. Penn State alumni are proven leaders in so many areas, including philanthropy.”

In year one, the gift will provide $100,000 to support graduate education at Penn State Law for those students who received their undergraduate degree from Penn State; $50,000 to set up a general scholarship in the Penn State College of Nursing; and $150,000 in funding for the Alumni Association Trustee Scholarship, established in 2003. In subsequent years, gifts will go to support the Alumni Association Trustee Scholarship, which has provided more than 230 awards since its inception.

Trustee Scholarships are based on financial need and awarded to students who are Pell Grant eligible, typically coming from families whose household income is below $31,000. Half of all recipients are the first generation in their family to pursue a college degree. Trustee Scholars make the most of the opportunities they are given in the classroom, with a median GPA of 3.8. Beyond the classroom, Trustee Scholars are better positioned to take advantage of the many co-curricular opportunities Penn State offers, including one-on-one research with faculty, internships, study abroad opportunities and more.

“Part of the attraction to coming to Penn State was knowing what a highly engaged and extensive alumni base and association there is here,” said Rich Bundy, vice president for development and alumni relations. “The Alumni Association’s generous pledge to students is a shining example of Penn State’s continued commitment to bettering the student experience.”

The Alumni Association’s 2016 Margin of Excellence task force, led by Vice President Steven B. Wagman, a 1982 alumnus, proposed this latest gift because of the broad impact the Trustee Scholarship offers in easing student financial burden.

The proposal was recommended by the task force, reviewed by the Budget and Finance Committee, and approved by the Alumni Association’s Executive Board and Alumni Council at its fall 2016 meeting.

“This gift is an example of the impact the Alumni Association has on Penn State and the overall student experience,” said CEO Paul J. Clifford. “Thanks to visionary leadership from Steve Wagman, Kay Salvino (immediate past president) and other volunteers who over the years have laid the groundwork for our philanthropic program, the Alumni Association will increase its direct impact through these important scholarships.”

This gift represents the latest in the Alumni Association’s decades-long tradition of giving back to students and the University.

In 2008, the Alumni Association made a gift of $2.1 million to support "For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students." That gift established 35 Penn State Alumni Association Trustee Scholarships, each endowed at $50,000 in 12 colleges, at 20 campuses, and three additional undergraduate units. It additionally supported graduate and professional education — $100,000 each for The Graduate School, the Penn State College of Medicine and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law — as well as $50,000 for Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Since 1988, the Alumni Association has contributed more than $15.3 million to Penn State, including support for undergraduate research, graduate fellowships, teaching fellow awards, the Blue Band practice facility, study abroad, and, most recently, an historic $150,000 matching gift to the 2016 Senior Class Gift, which supports the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) program.

Established in 1870, the Penn State Alumni Association connects alumni to the University and to each other; provides valuable benefits to members; and supports the University’s mission of teaching, research and service. More information about the Alumni Association is available at

Comments from previous Alumni Association Trustee Scholarship recipients

“Thanks to your generosity in providing me with this scholarship, my financial burdens have been lessened, allowing me to focus not on financial uncertainty but rather my goal of getting a good GPA and exploring Penn State. You have truly inspired me to give back to the Penn State community.” —Prem B. Patel, sophomore

“Cost and tuition can put a lot of stress on my mind but, thanks to the Alumni Association, I am fortunate enough to receive financial support to assist me throughout my journey. I am so grateful to have received this scholarship … I will continue to work hard in academics and strive to do my best in and out of the classroom.” —Atyia Collins, senior

“The strong alumni network is one of the many reasons I chose PSU. The students of Penn State bleed blue and white for the rest of their lives. Their faithfulness and loyalty to the University is unlike any other school that I looked at. The alumni and current students have made me beyond excited to start this school year. Before starting the school year, there are a few obstacles to overcome. Most are bills. Again, the alumni have helped me, this time with a scholarship. I would like to thank the Penn State Alumni Association for helping me make my decision to attend Penn State and then helping me make it a reality.” —Samantha Muscarella, sophomore

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 18, 2017