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Braswell: Private Scholarships Are Most Popular Among Tech Donors

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Braswell: Private Scholarships Are Most Popular Among Tech Donors

Private scholarships remain the most popular form of giving at Tennessee Tech.

Vice President for University Advancement Kevin Braswell said private scholarships can help students who would otherwise not receive financial aid.

“It’s really rewarding to see donors around the world think about their Tech experience and decide for various reasons ‘I want to make that possible for another student’, and to watch them make that investment that allows the student to come,” Braswell said.

Braswell said Tech works closely with donors when setting up a private scholarship. While most public scholarships have grade or financial requirements, private scholarship criteria is left up to the donor.

“There almost always is the donor who has the heart say for the student who’s family makes too much to qualify for Pell, but whose academic record is a solid B, B+ student who maybe doesn’t score highly enough on the ACT or SAT to qualify for one of the other scholarships,” Braswell said. “A lot of our best success stories come from students who maybe made mostly Bs and Cs and maybe the occasional D and have a heart for that kinds of student and want to help him or her find their path and make a difference in the world.”

Approximately 70 percent of Tech students receive financial aid. Braswell said half of Tech students graduate debt free, while the average debt of a Tech graduate is $16,500 compared to a national average of $37,650. Braswell said private scholarships contribute greatly to those numbers.

“I can’t count the number of instances now in my eight-plus years at Tech in which donors, typically alumni but not always, were so thoroughly pleased with being able to make a contribution that they were moved to the point of tears about being able to give back,” Braswell said. “Often it’s not about convincing them. It’s about serving as an able philanthropic partner to ensure the gift accomplishes what they intend.”

“We work with our donors to establish criteria of what they are trying to accomplish,” Braswell said. “For example, some of our donors very much want to effect students in the geographic area they were raised or where they spent some time in the state. Others are passionate about ensuring that students who get the award, while they have some academic merit, their principle concern is I want to help students with demonstrated financial needs, so we try to work with donors on all those thing.”


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