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Syracuse Responds: urgent fundraising appeal to meet current students' financial aid needs

December 04, 2008

Kevin Morrow
(315) 443-3784

Kevin Morrow

With the goal of raising several million dollars in the next 45 days to help meet urgent financial aid appeals from current students, Syracuse University has launched Syracuse Responds. The initiative is a rapid, short-term fundraising effort to help students who may not be able to return to campus next semester due to financial hardship caused by the current global financial crisis. Beginning today and concluding on Jan. 31, 2009, funds raised through the initiative will benefit hundreds of students -- with an average financial aid award totaling $5,000 per student next semester.

Over the first three months of the 2008-09 academic year, SU's Office of Financial Aid saw a significant increase in the number of requests for additional institutionally funded grants; the Office of Financial Aid has already identified additional students with urgent financial aid need for next semester. The funds raised through Syracuse Responds -- which has a planned goal of $2 million -- will provide a new pool of University resources to help these students and their families.

"A fundamental feature of Syracuse University's distinctive legacy is that it has always been a place of access and opportunity for students from all backgrounds," says Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. "Time and again throughout its distinguished history, the SU community has stepped up to face serious challenges and ensure that this legacy endures. The global financial crisis has raised real barriers in the lives of many of our students and their families, and we will face the challenge resolutely, as we always have. The SU community will respond -- again."

"From a personal standpoint, I cannot imagine how different my life would be today without the rich educational opportunities given to me by SU," says SU Trustee Howie G. Phanstiel '70, G'71, co-chair of The Campaign for Syracuse University. "It's incredibly important for us to support this initiative and ensure these deserving students fulfill their potential."

"All of us are committed to assuring that our students have a successful experience here at Syracuse University," says Donald Saleh, SU vice president for enrollment management. "Helping students and their parents overcome the hardships imposed by the loss of a job or some other financial trauma demonstrates this commitment in a very meaningful and powerful way."

"Parents and students have worked very hard to meet their financial obligation for education. However, the depth of the current financial crisis has left many now struggling to meet important needs," says Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, SU associate vice president for enrollment management and director of scholarships and student aid. "It is very difficult to meet with talented and motivated students who have made a wise choice in attending Syracuse University and not be able to sufficiently assist them in completing their dream of getting a Syracuse degree."

Direct-mail and e-mail outreach is planned to alumni, faculty and other past and current donors. A website (http://syracuseresponds.syr.edu) has been created to offer additional information and provide an easy means to donate online.

Each year, the University provides students more than $150 million in institutionally funded assistance-financial aid in addition to that provided by federal and state sources. More than two-thirds of the total SU student body receives this institutional assistance.

In light of the global financial environment, the University, under Chancellor Cantor's direction, recently took action to reduce costs within the central administrative units-those non-academic units outside of the schools and colleges. These savings total $8 million in the current year, growing to $11 million next year, and are being used to support student financial aid and continued academic momentum in the schools and colleges. In addition, every new dollar raised through the Syracuse Responds initiative will ensure support for additional students in need.

"I've been pleasantly surprised by the immediate outpouring of support we've seen from alumni, parents, faculty and friends of the University who have understood very quickly and comprehensively the urgency of this challenge," says Brian Sischo, associate vice president and director of The Campaign for Syracuse University. "At the same time, however, it's going to require significant effort from everyone to reach this fundraising goal in such a tight timeframe. What could be more important than ensuring our students can remain at SU and earn their degrees?"

Sischo continues, "As an overall featured priority of The Campaign for Syracuse University, raising funds for financial aid is critical to ensuring student access and opportunity not only today but for future generations as well."

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