Scripps College receives $15 million grant to boost financial aid efforts

Students walk along field away from Balch Auditorium at Scripps College.
Scripps College aims to make education more accessible to students through the SEF grant.(HuxleyAnn Huefner • The Student Life)

In an era of rising college costs, Scripps College announced Sept.14 that it had been selected to receive a $15 million grant from the Schuler Education Foundation (SEF), which will be matched by donors over the next decade to bolster the college’s financial aid efforts.

Scripps is one of five colleges to partner with the Schuler Access Initiative this year, aiming to increase the enrollment of high-achieving students who are Pell Grant eligible or undocumented and therefore unable to receive federal aid.

The SEF’s mission is to “further the success of individuals and communities by investing in high-achieving underrepresented students and top-tier liberal arts colleges.”

Scripps will receive up to $15 million in matching funds from donors over the next 10 years, for a total of $30 million in scholarship aid.

“Not only will the Schuler Access Initiative significantly scale our progress toward making the College more inclusive of students from varied backgrounds, it’s also a rare chance for us to help break a longstanding barrier that has excluded them from experiencing all higher education has to offer,” Scripps president Suzanne Keen said in a press release.

To qualify for selection by the SEF, colleges must meet 80 percent of students’ financial need and have a donor base committed to investing in college access.

Since Scripps is need-aware during its admissions process, unlike need-blind Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College and Harvey Mudd College, Scripps’ ability to admit more Pell-eligible or undocumented students has been limited. Currently, Pell-eligible and undocumented students comprise 11 percent of Scripps’ total student population.

Over the grant’s 10-year lifetime, the school aims to increase that number to 24 percent, Scripps spokesperson Rachael Warecki told TSL in a press release.

Scripps students see this grant as one of the steps that Scripps can take to become more equitable. 

“I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction, and I’m excited that there are going to be more funds for Pell-grant eligible students,” Quinn Katayama-Stall SC ’26 said. “But it’s the first step of many, in my opinion.” 

The SEF’s new scholarship is one of many Scripps has introduced over the past decades to focus on equity, including the 2016 IDEA Initiative and the 2017 Presidential Scholarship Initiative.  

“Scripps’ history as a women’s college is rooted in extending higher education to underrepresented students,” Keen said. “But the Scripps experience remains unaffordable and therefore out of reach for some.”

Carson McVay SC ’23 said she has experienced the difficulty of paying for college first-hand and took last semester off in order to save money for school.

“I think anytime you can get more perspectives and more diverse backgrounds into a place — especially one like Scripps, where it’s not particularly diverse — that’s a really positive thing,” McVay said. “When perspectives increase, there is an increase in ideas, and that’s a really positive thing to have in a community.”

McVay added that Scripps still has room for improvement within its financial aid offerings.

“I think cost is really inhibitory for a lot of people coming to Scripps, and I think the fact that Scripps isn’t need-blind is not great because that means fewer deserving people who can’t pay full price have access to Scripps,” she said. 

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