According to the Higher Education Research Institute, more first-year college students have concerns about their ability to pay for college than at any time in the last 40 years, and these concerns reflect the impact of the recession on entering college students. At Wake Forest University, graduating seniors are responding to this anxiety.
Having suffered through the worst years of the economic downturn, the class of 2010 was inspired to raise money to ease financial burdens for freshmen through a new initiative dubbed the Senior Class Scholars Program. Senior class members raised $12,500, to help pay down educational debt for five freshman—providing $2,500 for each.
“Many seniors said they felt called to give back because of scholarships they had received and because they know first-hand the difference that easing the burden of educational debt can make for a student,” says Lauren Hubbard, a 2009 Wake Forest graduate who helped initiate the program through her work in the university advancement office.
This year’s graduating class understands better than most how financial burdens can affect families and individuals. Many have had a parent lose a job and experienced the emotional and financial stress this causes for the family.
“It’s challenging enough to keep grades up without worrying about financial concerns,” says senior Melissa Beckett, a senior communications major from Dallas, Texas. “We wanted to give a gift to Wake Forest that would help other students just like us.”