The University of Georgia has received the largest single gift in its history to support the top priority of the Commit to Georgia Campaign: need-based financial aid. The $30 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation was announced at the kick off of the public phase of the campaign in Atlanta in mid-November.
“The Woodruff Foundation is pleased to join alumni and friends of the University of Georgia to help expand opportunity for students with financial need,” said Russ Hardin, president of the Woodruff Foundation.
“Through its generous gift, the Woodruff Foundation has made a transformative investment in the lives of promising young students and in the future of our state,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Closing the financial aid gap helps open doors of opportunity for Georgia’s best and brightest students.”
The full cost of attendance at the University of Georgia, which includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation, totaled more than $26,000 for in-state students in the fall 2016 semester.
“People often do not realize that HOPE or Zell Miller scholarships only cover a part of the expenses related to college,” said Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction.
For students from the lowest-income households, this may mean juggling two or three jobs or taking out multiple loans to make ends meet. As a result, some students may not be able to take full advantage of all UGA has to offer while enrolled or they may accumulate debt as they begin their careers.
“We recognize that many bright, hard-working Georgia students face significant financial barriers to attending the university, and that far too many students graduate with burdensome debt,” said Hardin. “UGA’s ambitious campaign will help ensure both the educated workforce and the leadership our state needs to prosper in future years.”
The Woodruff Foundation gift builds positive momentum for the Commit to Georgia Campaign.
“The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation is always at the center of key philanthropic initiatives in Georgia,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “Its commitment signals to other philanthropists that there is an opportunity to have a huge impact on our students and our state.”
Students who receive need-based aid know first-hand how such a gift can impact individuals, as well as the institution as a whole. Chloe Hamby, a second-year political science major, struggled with family illness and financial difficulties. These adversities, however, only increased her drive.
“If I didn’t have my scholarship, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Hamby. “The fact that people I’ve never met are willing to help me get my education makes me extremely motivated to work hard and achieve my goals.”
The $30 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation will impact thousands of other UGA students like Hamby.
“This monumental gift will be felt for generations to come, and the lives of countless students and their families across this great state will be forever changed by this tremendous act of generosity,” said Morehead.