College and donors both able to reap benefits from structured estate gifts

October 31, 2018

Penn State means the world to many alumni. Giving back to the institution that gave them not only a degree, but also many cherished memories, can mean even more because of the personal satisfaction that comes from making an investment in education.

Gifts to the College of Education help enhance the learning experience for students, and support the faculty, research and facilities that are transforming education. The college is fortunate to have alumni who generously show their support in a variety of ways. After providing for family and other loved ones, many alumni and friends choose to make a bequest to the College of Education.

“A bequest, commonly referred to as an estate gift, allows you to make a gift to the college, receive an estate tax deduction for the amount of the gift, and leave a lasting legacy in an area of the University that is most important to you,” said Simon Corby, director of development and alumni relations for the College of Education. “Estate gifts make up 51 percent of the gifts pledged to the College of Education, compared to 23 percent given to the rest of the University.”

The high percentage of estate gifts for the college as compared to the rest of the University could be, in part, because other colleges’ alumni may be in careers that earn higher salaries than are typical for most College of Education alumni.

“Many College of Education alumni are quite frugal throughout their careers, but have consistent employment. They are able to accumulate a sizable nest egg for retirement, making them better able to give back to the college through their estate,” said Nathan Reeves, associate director of development for the college.

There are a few ways donors can give through their estates.

“The first and most common way donors give back to the College of Education through an estate gift is by designating a set amount of money to fund a new scholarship or to add to an existing one,” Corby said. “All donors have to do is state the amount of money they want to go toward the college in their will.”

Second is giving a set percentage of an estate. Most people can’t predict the exact size of their final estate. Making a gift by using a percentage amount can be a more effective means of dividing it because it enables the donor to benefit loved ones and the college in proportion.

“Often property and savings appreciate over the long term and so donors are often surprised that they can commit to an estate gift that might well increase significantly in value by the time the funds come to Penn State,” said Jerry Regan, director of major gifts for the college.

Corby said a less common way to give is by donating a collection of items, such as an art collection. The college then can sell the collection and use the proceeds.

Estate gifts are one type of planned gift, in which a donor purposefully integrates a charitable gift into his or her overall financial, tax and estate planning. Planned gifts enable donors to make a positive financial difference for themselves and their families, while also leaving a legacy that benefits future generations of Penn Staters.

Under the right circumstances, a planned gift can provide a donor with a variety of benefits including increasing current personal income and passing assets on to family members at reduced tax costs, while at the same time making a positive impact on students.

Ultimately, an estate gift is an opportunity to give back to the College of Education and Penn State in a meaningful way. For more information about planned giving, contact Corby at or 814-863-2146.

Last Updated November 02, 2018