Dordt College News

Scholarship program blessed with growth

December 2, 2013

This year's Dordt College students were able to apply for 53 more scholarships than studnets could apply for in 2010. Eight new scholarships are already finalized for the next academic year, with more in process.

The Scholarship Donor Banquet held on campus on September 27 was one of the best possible indications of this growth. Held for years in the Campus Center, it was moved to the Recreation Center last year to accommodate the growing group of donors and students.

“We designated a major part of the Vision 2020 Campaign to scholarships because we’re committed to keeping a Dordt College education affordable for all students,” says John Baas, vice president for college advancement. Development representatives continue to make donors aware of the variety of ways they can fund scholarships.

“People want to make a difference in an individual student’s life. They want to help someone who might not be able to attend Dordt College without scholarships,” says Director of Financial Aid Michael Epema.

Dordt currently has 96 endowed scholarships and 90 annually funded scholarships, but it is the annually funded ones that are increasing most rapidly. Over the past four years, 43 out of 56 new scholarships have been funded by annual donations.

That pattern makes sense in a time of low interest rates. It also makes funding a scholarship possible for more people. Setting up a new named scholarship requires a five-year, $2,000 per year commitment for annually funded scholarship or a contribution of $40,000 for an endowed scholarship.

“But anyone can contribute to an existing scholarship in any amount and make an important contribution to a student’s education,” says Epema.

Many donors not only want to make an individual difference with their gifts, they also choose to provide an award to a student in a particular major, a particular  geographic area, or some other area of interest.

“We try to write the requirements as broadly as possible to make sure we can always make the award, but we also try to honor donors’ wishes as much as possible,” Epema says. “When someone wants to fund a scholarship, it’s usually for something they’re passionate about.”

Despite these increases in the number of donor-funded scholarships available, competition for them is intense. The cost of education continues to rise, and federal and state dollars have not kept pace with these increases.

“There are lots of good students who are deserving of support,” says Epema.

“One of the things we hear from prospective students is that Dordt is expensive. While it does cost money, we believe the value is there, and that’s why we set up a scholarship,” say Dave and Amy (Vander Pol) Van Belle (both ’95). “We’d encourage other alumni to set up a scholarship, too; it’s a sacrifice that can potentially change someone’s life.”

The annual Donor Scholarship Dinner is a thank you to donors like the Van Belles from the college and from their student recipients. But it is also much more.

“Connecting donors with the young people whose lives are affected by a scholarship is a blessing that goes both ways,” says Baas. Donors and recipients get acquainted over dinner then listen to a few students express public thanks and hear performances by others.

“Each year after the dinner, we get calls from donors who want to increase their scholarship because they see the impact it is having. And we get calls from some friends and relatives of current donors who are interested in exploring a giving a gift that so directly affects a student’s life,” says Baas.

If you would like talk with someone about setting up a new or contributing to an existing scholarship, contact Dave Vander Werf at 712 722-6023

Media Access: Download Word Version | High Resolution Image: 1 | 2 | 3