In September 2007, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman issued a challenge to spur support for graduate and professional education: she committed the University to making a one-to-two match for any size gift (up to $1 million) that supports graduate and professional students. A total of $20 million in matching funds was available from the President's Donor Challenge, and schools and departments set out to capitalize on the incentive.
Alumni and friends of the Ford School met the challenge, showing great generosity and a commitment to the value of a Ford School degree. We received over $300,000 in matching funds between the start of the initiative and its conclusion in November 2008.
The estimated total cost to attend the two year MPP program is approaching $100,000, which is nearly prohibitive for most of the students who go on to work in the public sector. In addition to their tuition expenses, Ford School students often complete the required 10-week summer internship in public and non-profit organizations offering only unpaid or low paid internships.
In that financial context, the financial aid package made available to our students can play a major role in an applicant's choice of one school over another. As a top competitor for exceptional scholars from around the world, the Ford School and the University of Michigan rely heavily on an ability to offer financial aid to prospective students. One of the most important sources of aid funds is support from alumni and friends.
In professional schools such as the Ford School, financial support for students reduces the significant debt they would otherwise face after graduation. Less debt at graduation means a student can consider a full range of employment options, including less lucrative practice areas or positions in the public or non-profit sectors.
We are grateful to all friends and alumni who made contributions to support Ford School graduate students over the course of the Challenge. Your generosity will make a real difference in the lives and career paths of our students.
Earlier this month, President Coleman announced a new challenge, designed to raise funds to support undergraduate and graduate study-abroad opportunities. Read the University's announcement of the Challenge for The Student Global Experience.