The University of Pennsylvania has significantly strengthened its already exemplary commitment to ensure access to the world’s most talented students. Penn President Amy Gutmann has announced an ambitious initiative designed to raise an additional $240 million for undergraduate financial aid, bringing to $600 million the total amount of philanthropic support for undergraduate scholarships raised over the past decade.

Beginning immediately and concluding at the end of the 2014 calendar year, the President’s Men and Women of Pennsylvania Challenge Fund will jump-start the initiative by offering $1 million in matching funds to the first five donors of $1 million―each toward a matching fund pool―to support Penn’s all grant, no-loan financial aid program. By virtue of these gifts, these five donors will become Men and Women of Pennsylvania, joining the 68 other members of this leadership giving group which recognizes donors who make exceptionally generous investments in student aid at Penn.

George A. Weiss, W’65, created the Men and Women of Pennsylvania while Chairman of the Making History Campaign when he committed $14 million in financial aid matching funds. Now, the new Presidential Initiative enables Penn to continue the momentum.

In response to the announcement of the new initiative, Lee Spelman Doty, W’76, Chair of the Development Committee of the Board of Trustees, said, “Eight years ago, we took the case for financial aid to the Penn community through the Making History Campaign. The overwhelming support from alumni made it clear that we care deeply about ensuring a Penn education for the next generation. Now, the availability of these tremendous matching funds offers supporters a new opportunity to continue to strengthen Penn’s impact, while significantly increasing the value of their gifts to the University.”  

The matching fund pool, created by the Men and Women of Pennsylvania Challenge Fund, in turn, will provide matching funds to additional donors. When the final goal is met, operating support from the endowment to support undergraduate aid will increase by 30% over current levels.

During a recent meeting of the University Trustees, Gutmann said, “This Penn Compact 2020 Presidential Initiative will allow us to expand the impact of our all-grant, no-loan program, which has proven to be hugely successful in opening Penn’s doors to thousands of talented, hardworking students who could otherwise not afford a Penn education.”

Since becoming President in 2004, Dr. Gutmann has overseen an increase in undergraduate financial aid of 148 percent. Over this period, Penn’s all-grant, no-loan policy, launched during the Making History campaign, has decreased by 10 percent the average cost of a Penn education to all undergraduates with demonstrated financial need, who can graduate debt-free. Next year it is estimated that the average grant for students receiving aid will be $41,700.

The new initiative will add to the more than $360 million for undergraduate aid raised by Penn’s recently completed Making History Campaign, which identified increasing educational access as one of its key priorities.
Endorsing the significant President’s Challenge, Chair of the Board of Trustees David L. Cohen, L’81, sounded a call to action. “In response to so many supporters who have asked ‘What’s next for Penn,' one of my best responses is that, as the largest university in the United States with an all-grant, no-loan financial aid policy, we have been leading the way through our commitment to provide access based on talent, not income. By rising to the President's challenge, Penn will continue to lead by example. The matching opportunities from the President’s Office present a true partnership between the University and its supporters in this critical effort.”