Binghamton University has received an anonymous $37.5 million donation that will be used toward two new scholarship programs.
The new scholarships were announced during BU President Harvey Stenger’s 2023 State of the University Address. According to Stenger, of the money endowed, $25 million will be used to establish a scholarship to support 100 undergraduate students annually. The remaining $12.5 million will be used to support the Graduate Students of the Arts (GSA) scholarship for students getting a master’s degree in fine arts.
The undergraduate scholarship program is meant to support 100 incoming students annually, as long as they stay within the required GPA threshold, according to BingUNews. Twenty of these students will receive up to $10,000 in funding annually, which can be renewed for three years. Five first-year students will have their full cost of tuition, room and board covered — which can also be renewed for up to three years. The GSA scholarship will cover two full years of tuition expenses for those who show exceptional skills in their field. It will be given to 15 incoming graduate students and will also be used to develop the School of the Arts.
During his address, Stenger described the problems associated with the cost of attending BU.
“Tuition, room, board for in-state students is about $30,000 — even more for out-of-state students,” Stenger said. “It’s a lot of money. So we’ve been working really hard through our campaign to make sure that we tell our [alumni] that this is our highest priority. We tell our [alumni] we need to make BU accessible. The exceptional and accessible.”
According to BingUNews, representatives from the admissions office and office of financial aid will select the undergraduate recipients of the scholarships. Students chosen would have to maintain a minimum GPA threshold and show strong academic credentials coming into BU. If the selected student fails to maintain their GPA, a different student in their year will be offered the scholarship instead. As for the GSA scholarships, faculty from BU’s new School of the Arts will select recipients. If the designated student does not meet the expectation for their educational program, another student in the same year will be offered the scholarship instead.
Rebecca Benner, associate vice president for the Advancement and Campaign director, explained the selection process for the scholarship recipients.
“The undergraduate scholarships will enable us to recruit the best and brightest regardless of their ability to pay, while the [GSA] Scholarships will assist with recruiting talented students, so they can pursue their passion for the arts without the expense of graduate tuition,” Benner wrote in an email. “An investment like this inspires others to join a winning cause.”
Current students on campus expressed mixed sentiment toward the new endowment.
Aaron Wong, a sophomore majoring in biology, commented on the selection process for students.
“It’s great that students are getting this opportunity,” Wong said. “But what percentage of students who get this scholarship actually need it? It’s unfair for students who didn’t come from better schools with more opportunities, who won’t have the same academic opportunities. The richer kids can afford tutors and advising while poorer students might not be able to focus solely on their education. But it will be the privileged students who have the merit to get these scholarships.”
Deepanshi Gaur, a sophomore majoring in computer science expressed her belief that these new scholarship programs will attract academically rigorous students.
“When prospect students learn about the scholarships, the ones with the highest marks are more likely to apply,” Gaur said. “This means a new wave of academically rigorous students will be applying to BU, which brings up the school’s prestige.”