When to Start Giving to Your Alma Mater?

The Giving Kind NYU

This may be why they want my money.
(data from nyu.edu/giving)

It would be one thing if I told you that the minute the diploma was in my hand that NYU (my alma mater) began hounding me for donations. It is an entirely other beast when I tell you that, in fact, NYU began asking me for gifts an entire year before graduation. When your parents are still paying the fat tuition costs of college, it shouldn’t be hard to understand why giving extra money to your university isn’t high on your priority list. But now that I’m out of school, my tuition is paid, and NYU has grown from that school bleeding money from my family into that school that gave me four amazing years, I’m starting to think a little more seriously about giving them a few of my bucks.

The question I now face becomes when do I start giving, and how much do I give? These are questions I truly am considering, as I finally have my own income to spend and give as I like, and as every day that passes by creates only more longing for the time I spent in college.

I asked my group of friends what they would do if their university asked them for money right now. The overwhelming majority answered with a hard no, but everyone for different reasons. So here is the breakdown:

First pay loans, then make donations.

Many of my friends still owe thousands in college loans and can easily say that donating to their school is neither a want nor a possibility right now. When you have loans, it is surely more important to first pay off your tuition and then think about how much you can give in donations.

I just finished paying tuition. Give me a break!

For other friends, the feeling of paying off a $200,000 education is still lingering, leaving them with a bitter taste in their mouth when asked to donate to their school. Some think that giving back to their school is something that should happen after school just a bit further behind them.

I don’t earn enough to pay my own rent, why would I give to my college?

I would say this is a rather valid point that even begs the question if it is appropriate at all for our schools to already be asking us for money. Most recent college graduates don’t make enough to live independently of their parents, let alone make meaningful donations back to their schools. Perhaps instead someone could try asking for a pledge? A pledge that within twenty years, let’s say, I will donate at least $2,000 back to my school. Just an idea.

And then there were the minority few who said they would, in fact, donate some money back to their school right now. I personally feel like I fit somewhere between the category of people who feel like I don’t have enough, and the people who would actually want to donate. I don’t plan on going to the NYU homepage right now and making a donation to the ubiquitous 1831 Fund, but I do know that at some point this year I will give NYU students some money in some way. It may be through a scholarship fund, or it may be through a campus organization, but in all honesty it probably won’t be much. I just hope NYU appreciates that I’ll at least be giving the little bit I can.

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