The SafeEstates Blog

How to Establish an Endowed Scholarship

Harvard University was founded in 1636. The first endowed scholarship at Harvard was established in 1643 by Ann Radcliffe Moulson, widow of a former mayor of London. Two hundred fifty years later, the Harvard affiliated women’s liberal arts college was renamed Radcliffe College in 1894 to honor her. Have you ever thought about endowing a scholarship?
Many of us are disappointed the pandemic has cancelled or postponed our high school and college reunion plans and has limited our live-access to college sports events. If you are crazy about your alma mater, maybe you will take the money you saved during the pandemic to endow a college scholarship. Starting an endowed scholarship fund is easy and is a wonderful way to honor a friend or relative and provide an opportunity to a worthy student each year.
The school does not use your gift to pay the scholarship; it invests your gift and pays scholarships using the investment income. Each school has its own rules, but generally the endowed fund must generate a minimum $1,000 of income per year, so $25,000 in the fund is about the least it will take. Some schools will allow the endowment to be contributed over a period of several years. Of course, you can give $1,000 each year, but we are talking about an endowed scholarship that will run forever. Here are some steps to take:
  • Decide on the school and the purpose of the scholarship. You also can endow a scholarship through a community foundation if you do not want to be limited to a school.
  • Contact the school’s development office.
  • Ask the development office how much of the criteria you can specify (for example, limited to students pursuing a specific major or career, from a specific geographic area, based on need or achievement)
  • Ask the development office if you or another family member can participate in the selection process each year.
Each school also has a general scholarship fund. If you want to try the idea out before you endow a scholarship, contribute to the general scholarship fund or ask the endowment office about funding a scholarship one year at a time.
~ Randy Hooper