$2.8-Million Gift to Financial Aid Builds on Colby’s Commitment to Maine Students

Announcements4 MIN READ
By Laura MeaderPhotography by Maine Drone Imaging
Contact: George Sopko ([email protected]) 207-859-4346
April 15, 2021

Colby College is pleased to announce a $2.8-million gift toward financial aid that further ensures access and affordability for Maine students. The gift, made possible through the anonymous donors’ estate, builds on an existing financial aid fund previously established by the same couple, bringing their total contribution to financial aid of in-state students to more than $5 million.

“These donors are emblematic of a quality I deeply appreciate in Mainers—they have a generous spirit and are always extending their hand to anyone who needs a lift,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “This gift furthers our ability to support the many deserving, hardworking, and talented students from Maine. They make a tremendous difference at Colby, and their impact only grows when they graduate. We are so grateful for this support.”

The College has a longstanding commitment to removing financial barriers for the most talented students from every socioeconomic background around the globe. 

“Students can work hard and have strong support systems, but those from lower-income backgrounds often do not realize they can afford to go to top institutions and are still at risk of enrolling at colleges and universities that do not match their academic credentials. It’s an unfair disadvantage that is all too common in Maine,” said Assistant Vice President of Admissions and Financial Aid Randi Arsenault ’09.  

Since 2014 Colby has increased its financial aid—all of which is need-based—by nearly 80 percent, with its total financial aid budget increasing from $29 to $52 million in 2021. In January 2020, Colby was ranked fourth on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of “Colleges That Are the Most Generous to the Financially Neediest Students,” ahead of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

Through the Colby Commitment, Colby is one of only a handful of highly selective schools to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need without loans—providing students the opportunity to graduate without student loan debt. If a student’s family has a total income of $65,000 or less, approximately the median household income in the U.S., and has assets typical of this income range, the College has ensured they will have a parent or guardian contribution of $0. For families earning up to $150,000 with assets typical of that range, Colby’s Fair Shot Fund ensures the parent or guardian contribution will be capped at $15,000. Based on the latest United States Census Bureau data, this makes the cost of a Colby education accessible to most U.S. families. 

“Financial aid made my years at Colby possible, years that have shaped my entire life,” said the donor, a Maine native. “It means so much to us to pay it forward for the next generation of Maine students on Mayflower Hill. They are exceptionally talented with so many opportunities ahead of them.”

The couple, who maintains strong ties to Maine, has a long history of giving back to Colby students. They’ve supported the College consecutively for decades through both philanthropy and volunteer roles. “The students of today and tomorrow are the reason we stay so connected. Each one we meet has a great story,” the donors said. “The students are the best ambassadors for the College and its future.”

By structuring their most recent commitment through a planned gift, the donors were able to greatly expand their support far beyond what they thought possible. “Planned giving positioned us to grow this fund and make a big difference in a manageable way,” said the donors. “And that’s our goal—to give back in every way possible, just like we know these Maine students will do in their own communities in the decades to come.”

This past year, Colby offered nearly $7.5 million in financial aid to students from the Pine Tree State, who make up about 8.5 percent of the student population.

“The opportunity to attend Colby can change the trajectory of students’ lives and position them to make profound contributions to the world,” said Arsenault, a Maine native and first-generation college graduate herself. “This remarkable gift furthers our longstanding commitment to our home state and helps ensure that cost is not a barrier to the most talented Maine students enrolling at Colby.”

More than $30 million in financial aid gifts have been made to the College since the start of the Dare Northward campaign. These gifts are taking Colby’s financial aid to the next level in transformative ways, including providing more opportunities to all students and creating an academic environment that represents a variety of perspectives and that benefits the entire community.