CMC Receives $20 Million Financial Aid Donation

(Photo courtesy of the Claremont McKenna College Office of Admissions)

Robert L. Emett CM ’50, a World War II veteran and a graduate of Claremont Men’s College, reached an agreement with Claremont McKenna on Nov. 16 to donate approximately $20 million from his estate following his and his wife’s deaths.

The exact amount of the donation will depend on the prices of his assets at the time of the donation. Emett’s latest donation will contribute to paid summer internships and no-interest loan programs.

Emett has donated to the college in the past as well. On his suggestion, CMC converted a scholarship fund that Emett had established into a no-interest loan program. Since its establishment in 1994, the Robert L. Emett College Loan Fund has benefitted more than 150 students with loans totaling $1.7 million.  

“Mr. Emett thought his funds would be better utilized as an Emergency Loan Fund,” explained Peter Hong, the associate vice president of public affairs and communications at CMC. “Mr. Emett wants students to see their education as an investment that they participate in by repaying the loan, rather than an entitlement.”

The loan fund in particular has provided loans to students whose younger siblings’ college matriculation strained the family budget or who experienced other emergencies such as parents’ sudden loss of jobs.

Vanessa Romo CM '19, who worked as an unpaid research intern in CMC's psychology department, said she wouldn't have been able to do research "and get all of the experience and skills that I did" without Emett's funding.

"I wouldn't have been able to afford the housing and food," she said. "If [the funding is] able to help more students get the experiences that they need in order to figure out what they want to do, just gain an extra step of career development, that would be a huge help, especially for students that don't have the funds otherwise."

Jinyoung Lee CM '20 thinks the no-interest loan program is a good idea.

"I was initially awarded loans from the Wohlford Loan Program, but I chose not to use it and just pay tuition up front because the interest rate was pretty high for our family," Lee said. "I would be more likely to take out a loan from the college if it were no-interest. I think it was a good choice to help a wider range of students who are on financial aid."

While loan funds like Emmet's support students who are forced to change their financial aid packages in these exentuating circumstances, they don't aid students who are switching their packages for other reasons, like changing their course of study.

“I was honestly, quiet scared when I dropped the scholarship about the finances and I worried about financing my college education,” wrote Danielle Dominguez CM ‘19, who entered CMC as a recipient of the Interdisciplinary Science Scholarship and later dropped the award, in a message to TSL. “But despite some issues the financial aid dept did help me navigate that process.”

The Interdisciplinary Science Scholarship is one of CMC’s merit-based full-tuition scholarship program awarded to entering first-years, specifically “outstanding students from lower-income households,” and is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The recipients of ISS must dual or double major in a science discipline and a non-science discipline.

“I took history courses and literature courses at CMC and found my interests engaged and less so in my Keck science classes,” Dominguez wrote. “It’s difficult because the scholarship didn’t allow for that change, but in the end I decided that exploring subjects that I’m deeply interested in and have come to enjoy was more important than the financial security afforded by ISS.”

Overall, Hong wrote, very few CMC students have dropped out of scholarship programs, but when students have considered dropping, the CMC financial aid office has worked "to help them understand the implications of withdrawing."

“If a student does choose to withdraw from a scholarship program, the CMC office of financial aid packages them with a financial aid award utilizing other sources of aid which meets their demonstrated financial need," Hong wrote.