Franklin College beat its fundraising goal this year, while also accepting the largest incoming freshman class in years.
In order to achieve both, the college has worked to show students how they’ll get the best education in Franklin and convince donors that backing the school’s liberal arts education is a good investment, college officials said.
More than 2,200 donors made contributions ranging from $5 to $20,000 to the college’s Franklin Fund, which is used to provide scholarships to new and enrolled students. The college raised about $658,000 this year, topping the goal of $625,000.
Enrollment numbers also increased this year, and the college has closed the freshman class at 389 students, the largest since 2007. Franklin College is competing with 31 private schools and larger state schools in Indiana, so having to close off admission because the school has reached its space capacity is an achievement in the highly competitive college market, vice president for enrollment and marketing Alan Hill said.
Fundraising staff have made more contact with alumni who had never donated, asked for increased donations from alumni who have given and branched out to local businesses to build more relationships for internships and corporate scholarships, vice president for the office of development and alumni relations Gail Lowry said. Since the donations are funding scholarships, admissions staff are able to offer some sort of financial aid to about 96 percent of students.
With some tuition or costs being covered, families can then focus more on having students meet professors or coaches during campus visits and learning more about the opportunities at the college, Hill said.
“In terms of just the achievement, it’s a very competitive market out there, and there are so many wonderful options out there to consider,” Hill said.
“We believe that we try to really personalize our process so that students can make an informed choice.”
Franklin College aims to keep just more than 1,000 students enrolled each year, and the large incoming class will continue that trend for another year, Hill said. The college received about 2,100 applications this year, which was similar to 2013, but had an increase in women’s applications to about a 50/50 split between genders.
About 1,600 students were accepted to the college, and 389 have committed, which is a good percentage considering how many options students have, Hill said. High school students typically apply to multiple schools and weigh opportunities and costs before making a final decision, he said.
Since the financial aid has made Franklin more affordable, that’s made it easier to promote the benefits of small class sizes and opportunities to work directly with businesses in the community, he said.
Tuition for the 2014-15 school year is $28,000, with an additional $8,960 for housing and meals.
Branching out to more people more often helped the college exceed its goal this year without needing to rely on a few giant donations, Lowry said. Caterpillar gave the largest single donation of $20,000 as a corporate scholarship, so the majority of the drive was made up of smaller donors, she said.
The college was able to get donations from 186 alumni or local businesses who were donating for the first time, Lowry said. Fundraising staff also succeeded in getting past donors to give a little more, with almost 900 people committing a higher amount than they have in the past, she said.
Using social media helped get new donations, especially among alumni who have graduated in the past 10 years, Lowry said. The college hosted a one-day donation drive for the second year, and additional notices helped to triple the number of donors and money raised compared to last year, she said.
College staff also made additional visits in the past year to local companies to arrange for student internships or hands-on learning opportunities, which helped generate more donations from corporations, Lowry said. Twelve area businesses contributed $1,000 corporate scholarships this year.
She said staff will now build on this year’s growth and again try to attract new donors and encourage alumni to put a little more back into their school.
“It’s important to sustain and build,” Lowry said. “It’s about building upon that and keeping relationships strong.”