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Alumni support scholarships that help create future alumni

College graduates who borrowed money for bachelor’s degrees granted in 2012 had an average student loan debt of $29,400, according to the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access and Success. In total, seven in 10 college seniors who graduated in 2012 had student debt. Numbers like these highlight why the University of Cincinnati Alumni Association (UCAA) offers more than $100,000 to about 65 UC students a year.

“Given the expense of attending college, the decision for some students on which school to attend may come down to funding,” says Mandy Shoemaker, UCAA program director for student engagement. “Also, additional aid might prevent some students from taking second jobs and potentially jeopardizing their studies.” UCAA offers four different scholarships, including two for those with family ties to the university.

The Christos Demakes Legacy Scholarship is awarded to outstanding incoming freshmen whose parents or grandparents attended UC and support the UC Alumni Association yearly. Begun over a dozen years ago to honor the man who led UC’s alumni relations for the last quarter of the 20th century, the Demakes scholarship is supported by an endowment.

The Kacher-Bloom Memorial Scholarship for current UC seniors is moving toward becoming fully endowed thanks in part to efforts by UCAA’s Young Professionals group. The scholarship memorializes Sheri An Bloom, AHS ‘85, and Meg Kacher, Bus ‘85, friends who died suddenly as undergrads in 1985.

The Undergraduate Legacy and the Regional Alumni Network scholarships are funded a bit differently. Every time an Ohio driver purchases or renews an official UC license plate featuring the classic C-Paw, $25 of the $35 special-plate fee comes back to the UCAA to benefit these scholarship funds.

“There are so many scholarships offered at the university that folks don’t even know about,” Shoemaker says. “With the costs of education and living rising all the time, even a small amount can make a really big difference.”

“These scholarships are critical in continuing to strengthen the UCAA while attracting and retaining top students,” adds UC Young Professionals president Cory Sims, Bus ‘11. “Increasing the awareness of the Kacher-Bloom scholarship and raising additional funds for the endowment are major focuses of the group going forward.” (The goal is to endow the scholarship at $50,000.)

But alumni don’t have to donate money or buy a license plate to give back. Alumni can support their alma mater by donating their time and expertise to current students. “The more support we get from alumni, the more successful we will be in transitioning students to engaged alumni who become lifelong UC supporters,” Shoemaker says.

Student need by the numbers

  • 42,656 -- UC’s total enrollment for 2013-14
  • 80% -- UC undergraduates who will struggle to pay tuition after receiving financial aid and family support
  • $250 million -- total average amount of unmet UC student need each year
  • $100,000 -- average total of UCAA scholarships each year
  • 65 -- annual number of students who benefit from UCAA scholarships