Students need the donation

USC students should be first in line to receive a significant portion of the David and Dana Dornsifes’ unprecedented $200 million donation.

USC is one of the most prestigious  schools in the nation to attend. Yet, with sky-high tuition, pricey room and board and a plethora of other fees, by the time USC students toss their graduation caps in the air, they can face massive financial problems.

Deborah Ho| Daily Trojan

To pay for their education, many students either get full or part-time jobs during the school year, or apply for scholarships and financial aid.

According to College Board, in the fall of 2010, about 1,900 freshmen at USC applied for need-based financial aid, but only 1,100 received it; leaving 800 searching for other options which include either scoring some big-time scholarships or raiding Grandma’s piggy-bank.

Every year, thousands of students apply for a limited number of scholarships.

Imagine what the Dornsifes’ $200 million donation could accomplish by creating several more scholarship opportunities for students who desperately need more monetary assistance than what the financial aid office can offer.

Unfortunately, USC has a habit of spending monstrous lump sums of money on big buildings and esoteric research projects, rather than scholarships for students.

Admittedly, this is largely because donors often demand their money be used for these purposes.

George Lucas gave the School of Cinematic Arts $175 million in 2006, specifically for a new building. In the fall, the Annenberg Foundation gave Annenberg $50 million, again explicitly for the purpose of constructing a new building.

But the Dornsifes’ donation to the College of Letters, Arts, & Sciences is unrestricted — the College can do whatever it wants with the money.

Top faculty, productive research and state-of-the-art facilities certainly help make USC the 23rd best college in the nation according to the U.S. World and News Report of 2011.

But the main reason USC is one of the best universities in the country is the caliber of its students.

Getting into USC is a tough task in itself. Sticking around is another challenge.

USC students have to earn high grades and high salaries in order to avoid succumbing to student loans and tremendous debt come graduation.

USC asks undergraduates to perform well in class but at the same time acquire jobs that take significant time away from studying.

Students deserve a piece of the Dornsife pie just as much as their professors, if not more so.

Of course, the university should use some of the Dornsife donation to fund faculty and boost research.

The most effective way to better the university, however, is to give students the gift of economic peace of mind by increasing the number and size of scholarships.

In essence, most donations to the university are made to advance the quality of student life and improve students’ educational experiences.

Students should spend time studying, leading active social lives and enjoying their college years instead of worrying about how to pay for it all.

The Dornsife donation, if used strategically, can help make that happen.

Conrad Wilton is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism.

4 replies
  1. Apollo
    Apollo says:

    Rich, I grew up in a state with very sub-standard public schools (Not even top 100). Are you saying that because I had the misfortune to grow up in a state without strong public institutions that I should belittle the hard work I did in high school to qualify for a top tier college? And get a job? Are you kidding me? USC costs in the neighborhood of 45k a year, good luck making even a small dent in that with a minimum wage job in south central. You speak casually of a battle YOU have most likely never been part of. Some of the brightest minds in the United States grow up poor, it is USC’s duty to provide opportunities for ambitious students regardless of the financial implications. It is not charity, financial aid to the needy is an INVESTMENT.

  2. Jared G
    Jared G says:

    Conrad, thank you for writing this article. I only hope it can be more widely distributed to the people who can make an impact. Maintaining a strong GPA and building up a resume of extracurricular activities and unpaid internships is difficult enough to be competitive in today’s market, without having to work a full time job. If the money is made available by a couple as generous as the Dornsifes, it is in my opinion a complete error in judgment to not put a significant portion of the unrestricted donation toward student scholarships. Moreover, those students who are worthy of receiving USC scholarships (but for some reason do not get as much help as they need) are then left to apply to various alumni groups for minuscule amounts of money in comparison to an ECA of over $50,000.00/year. These applications which have to be reapplied for annually take hours away from student studies and leave these students at a competitive disadvantage. All I’m saying is that if the money has been donated without restriction, then student scholarships to ensure that USC retains the best and brightest Trojans is by far the most effective use (or part thereof) of the Dornsife donation.

  3. Rich Salas
    Rich Salas says:

    UHHHH…here is an idea to cut costs for students not wanting a large private school bill after college is over….GO TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL. I swear, the whining and give me give me attitude of students today is hilarious. Going to college is not a right, or something you have to do, and attending a private college is an outright privilege. Maybe you can do what I did while in college (yes, private college), and get a JOB. Its the tough way to go, and it will be hard, and you wont get 7 hours of sleep every night, but it is worth it. Its alot better then whining and crying with your hand out.

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