When Tuition Runs Out, Who Steps In?

This year, on December 12, we highlight the point in the academic year when tuition stops covering the cost of keeping Grinnell running and the endowment and donors – past and present – step in. 

Nearly 60 percent of Grinnell’s budget comes from current gifts and the endowment.  Last fiscal year, 6,230 alumni, 2,021 parents, and 244 students supported Grinnell with a gift. Many of them have already renewed that support this year. 

These donors step in to ensure that the lights stay on, the scholarships get funded, and that your generation of Grinnellians will share in the experiences those before you had.

Why do they give?

Because…thinking bigger supports Grinnell’s need-blind admission policy

Alumni Council member Kirpal Singh ’97 didn’t personally benefit from Grinnell’s generous need-blind admission policy, but he knows that his life was immeasurably improved because of it. He is grateful that students got into the College because they were a good fit for the school, not because they had the ability to pay tuition. His close friends from financially disadvantaged backgrounds worked hard to make their Grinnell experiences smashing successes and have pursued remarkable careers in many fields.

When Grinnell began to discuss what it would take to maintain its need-blind policy, given ever-rising costs, Singh was among the first to make a generous gift to support its continuation. “Because of our endowment, all alumni have gotten a discount on a Grinnell education, even students who paid the full price,” says Singh. Alumni don’t need to pay that back, he says, but they can pay it forward.

For Singh, the equation is simple: “If we think the need-blind admission policy is important, it’s time for us step up as alumni and support that goal financially.”


Because…thinking bigger carries on a family’s Grinnell legacy

Janna Jacobson didn’t attend Grinnell, but when she arrived on campus in 2010 to accompany her mother, Sarah Williams Jacobson ’60, at her 50th reunion, she instantly understood why her mother had loved it. “I was drawn in by the whole experience, from the students to the campus,” she recalls. The weekend also helped her understand the college experiences of family members who had passed away: Her father, Jim Jacobson ’59, and her grandfather Earl Jacobson ’24 also graduated from Grinnell.

Later, when her mother mentioned that she might like to leave some money to Grinnell, Jacobson was eager to support those wishes. After Sarah passed away early in 2013, Janna and her four siblings contributed gifts to start a scholarship fund that recognizes all three Grinnellians in their family.

Janna considers the gift a fitting tribute: It was only through the generosity of another Grinnellian, Murray McMurray, 1910, that her grandfather could afford to attend Grinnell. “[My grandfather] got an amazing gift,” Janna says. “We love that we can support future students.”


Because…thinking bigger gives young Grinnellians a career boost

When it comes to landing a dream job, Jeetander Dulani ’98 knows that a great résumé is helpful, but relationships often make all the difference. Grinnellians such as George Moose ’66, George Drake ’56, and Anne Woodley ’80 played a role in helping Dulani have some of the most powerful experiences of his life, from an internship with Amnesty International in South Africa to a job with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. A chance conversation at a Grinnell picnic led to an opportunity to lead a global health project on HIV/AIDS in India. More importantly, he says, such connections often led to deep friendships.

Now a senior attorney at an international law firm in Washington, D.C., Dulani offers the same opportunities to other Grinnellians. As a volunteer with GRINNELLINK, he happily offers advice to students and young alumni about consulting, law, and graduate school. He reads résumés and cover letters and puts Grinnellians in touch with people across his network. “Grinnellians are passionate and often brilliant people,” he says. “I want to help them connect with people who can help turn their passion into a career.”

Dulani and his wife, Alicia Kinsey ’00, a financial regulatory attorney at Mayer Brown in Washington, D.C., increased their personal support of the College as their careers grew. “We both certainly benefited from the generosity of the alumni that came before us,” Dulani says. “We have significantly increased our financial and nonfinancial support to the College over the years.“

“One simple reason for our increased support is that we are finally in a position to give more and do more,”Dulani adds. “But on a more fundamental level, we both believe in Grinnell. Education can be transformative, and Grinnell made a huge difference in our lives. Our support today is simply our way of giving back.”