Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has announced a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor to enable students in its Magnolia Scholars program to reduce their student loan debt.
Magnolia Scholars are first-generation college students enrolled in a specialized program that provides them with community, accountability, and targeted mentoring. Students selected for the program demonstrate strong academic preparation, are highly motivated, and come from diverse backgrounds and geographies.
Part of the university's $1 billion Wake Will Lead campaign, the gift will endow a fund that provides an additional $4,000 annually to each of the hundred and twenty scholars currently enrolled in the program, and for all Magnolia Scholars going forward. The funding is intended to supplement other scholarships and grants the scholars may receive, substantially reducing or eliminating the amount of their need-based student loan debt.
An initial pilot grant from the same donor has provided participants in the program with additional financial support over the past four years, with each of the thirty scholars in the class of 2018 seeing their four years of undergraduate debt reduced by $16,000. Two-thirds of those students chose to study abroad, while 36 percent (compared with 18 percent of all Wake Forest graduates) declared a second major.
"Education offers countless paths to explore, many never before imagined, but under financial pressure, students may limit their choices," said Wake Forest president Nathan O. Hatch. "With this leadership gift, our Magnolia Scholars will receive extra financial support so they can focus on taking full advantage of their education."