In a few short weeks, many of us will don navy caps and gowns, shake hands with Shippensburg University administrators and finally receive our degrees.
The last few weeks of the semester are always a busy time, especially knowing that you may never come back here — at least as a student, that is.
But after graduation is when reality will really set in.
Student loans will kick in six months from now, and if you don’t already have some sort of job by then, the pressure will only ramp up.
At this point in our lives, being called “alumni” can lead to a feeling of nervousness about what’s to come, particularly financially. This begs the question of when is the right time for the university to begin asking us for donations.
My father is an SU alumnus, and I can remember getting donation calls from the university growing up. “Shippensburg University” would light up the caller ID, and my parents would tell me not to answer — all they want is money, they’d say.
Even before graduation, there are signs creeping in of the financial obligation asked of you. My parents, for instance, received a flyer in the mail asking if they wanted to buy space for a message to me in the commencement program, or donate money to one of the university’s programs.
I understand why there needs to be a push for alumni donations. Tuition has risen among the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities, while enrollment has dropped. PASSHE funding has become harder to obtain. There aren’t enough resources for SU to do everything it needs with purely state funds.
But with student loan debt at its highest ever in 2019 ($1.5 trillion), according to Forbes, most of us are not going to be in a financially secure enough space to give back for years. For some, the process of finding a job can take up to six months or more, according to The Balance.
Keeping that in mind, there should be a grace period where we are not bothered by the university to which we devoted four years of time and money.
Donating should not be something that alumni are pressured into doing. It should be an independent act — one that is performed by people who are so passionate about their school or program that they feel called to help those coming after them.
Repeatedly reaching out to a group of 20-somethings is only going to result in frustration that our university is financially capitalizing on our college careers.
If and when the Class of 2019 wants to donate, we know where to find SU. Until then, please stop asking for money that we’re not going to have any time soon.