Syracuse University Magazine

SU Community Assists Students in Financial Crisis

matthew fiore The recession hit Matthew Fiore ‘11 and his family hard. "Extra assistance from the Syracuse Responds campaign has made it possible for me to complete my studies here at SU," says the School of Information Studies student. "When I‘m established financially, I hope I might also be able to help a student stay at Syracuse."

In fall 2008, the global economic crisis was having a tremendous impact on hundreds of SU students and their families. Whether due to job loss, dwindling college funds, or a tightening student loan market, many were finding that without additional aid they might not be able to return to campus for the spring semester. Among them was Jessica Parkhurst '12, a psychology and child and family studies major from Westport, Connecticut. "Syracuse University has been such a wonderful place for me to grow as an individual," says Parkhurst, a Dean's List student who intends to become a child therapist. "There are so many opportunities here, and I know coming out of SU will offer me the best future possible." Near the end of her first semester, however, Parkhurst's parents sat down with her to discuss the sudden financial challenges of continuing at Syracuse. "Since SU has always been my dream, and since I'd been excelling, it was difficult for them to tell me that I may be unable to continue my education here," she says.

Syracuse University took immediate action to help keep Parkhurst and students like her in school, implementing cost-cutting measures and reallocating savings to student aid. The University also appealed to alumni, parents, friends, faculty, and staff to join in the Syracuse Responds Initiative-an intensified effort to raise additional funding for financial aid by January 31, 2009. The results were extraordinary: Gifts totaling $1,028,160 helped the University provide new financial aid to 426 students, many of whom could not have returned to campus otherwise. "This initiative allowed us to reduce the burden students and their families were facing, and respond to them with grant aid," says Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, associate vice president for enrollment management. "These students have made tremendous sacrifices to be here, and thanks to Syracuse Responds, we were able to say to them, ‘Your education matters to us.'"

Among those who responded to the initiative was Winston Weber '62 of Tampa, Florida, founder and CEO of Winston Weber and Associates Inc., a management consulting firm. "When the call went out to alumni and others to help fill the gap to provide for students in need, I thought about my own kids, and what a shame it would have been if they were unable to finish their educations," says Weber, who serves on the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors. He was further inspired by the initiative to establish a scholarship fund in his name. "There are times when we all have to think about others and help where we can, whether in a small or large way," he says. "I feel strongly that there are a lot of alumni out there who can help support the University in this way, and support the kids, and I hope this initiative is something Syracuse will continue."

For Parkhurst, that support has made all the difference. "I was overjoyed to find out that SU was giving me more aid to help me stay here," she says. "Thank you to everyone who supported Syracuse Responds for helping to keep me at SU. Your generosity is always on my mind as I walk through the Quad!"

—Amy Speach

Responding to the Crisis

Approximately 80 percent of SU students depend on financial aid to meet the cost of attending the University. Together with Syracuse Responds donors, SU provided, in total, more than $160 million in financial aid during the 2008-09 academic year. The following statistics provide an overview of donors who gave to the Syracuse Responds campaign.

  • 1,829 individuals gave gifts ranging from $1 to $180,000.
  • The single largest donor group was alumni, at 64.84 percent.
  • One-fifth (20.24 percent) of the donors were recent graduates or current students.
  • Parents and former parents made up 17.7 percent.
  • 13.29 percent of contributors were SU faculty and staff.
  • Donors came from 42 states, 1 U.S. territory, and 12 countries.