Donation to provide more scholarships for veterans at USC

The Schoen Family gave a $10-million gift on Tuesday that will provide additional financial support to military veteran students studying in the Marshall School of Business and Viterbi School of Engineering.

Veterans · USC trustee William Schoen donated $10 million. - Photo Courtesy of Marshall

The gift will increase the Schoen Family Scholarship Program for Veterans Endowment, which William Schoen, a USC trustee and alumnus (B.S. ’60, MBA ’63) and his wife, Sharon, established in 1986.

“I believe that our veterans deserve an excellent education at an outstanding university,” William Schoen, a U.S. Marine veteran who served in Korea in the 1950s, said in a press release. “Our support for veterans goes back to when I went to USC. The reason that I was able to go to USC was that I applied for a scholastic scholarship and was awarded one.”

The couple has since given a total of $16 million to the endowment, which has benefited 173 military veteran students, totaling $1.2 million.

Karla Leyva, a senior studying accounting and recipient of a full-tuition scholarship from the Schoen Endowment, said that without the scholarship she would not be at USC.

“A big reason why I was able to accept [USC’s admission offer] and come here was because of the scholarship,” said Leyva, a U.S. army veteran who completed two tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2007. “I made it my goal to really do well in my studies so I could qualify for the scholarship and could leave USC without debt.”

Leyva, who transferred from Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif., said the Schoen family scholarships open up opportunities for veterans.

“[The scholarship] is something that can help out a veteran coming from whatever duty they did in the military,” Leyva said. “It’s a good way to pay homage or give back to the vets who have been fighting for our country to come back and accomplish their academic goals.”

With the $10-million gift, the endowment will double the number of Schoen family scholarships from 15 to 30, which will be available beginning in the fall. Eligible applicants include incoming freshmen, transfer students and continuing undergraduates in Marshall or Viterbi and full-time MBA students. Candidates must have served three continuous years of active duty and have been granted an honorable discharge title.

“The Schoens’ longstanding dedication to our nation’s military veterans will always inspire the USC community,” President C. L. Max Nikias said in a press statement. “The Schoens understand that these brave service members have contributed so much to our country’s collective security, and deserve a world-class education — one that matches their world-class courage.”