Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hold onto your hats!

I had to read this one twice and perhaps you will as well. This morning, it's reported that Stanford University, one of the finest and most prestigious universities on the west coast, will be allowing students who are accepted coming from families making less than $100,000 annually, to attend Stanford tuition FREE! That's a $36,000 savings per year! Wow. If I were a senior, I would apply even if I hadn't considered it before. Here's a link to the full story.
Why the change? Plain and simple, they've got the money. Their endowment is over $17 billion. All tax-exempt, that money enables the school to continue funding the operating expenses, pay salaries and provide financial aid. It's one the best endowed schools in the country (behind Harvard, Yale and followed closely by Notre Dame). Their level of endowment has grown significantly faster than inflation meaning their pricing didn't match how much people were making. Bravo for Stanford having the courage to step out to do this! I don't see the Ivy Leaguers doing it!
At the same time, I can't help but wonder if that was the idea of endowment in the first place - a giant tax-exempt safety net. Some churches do that - gather a huge nest egg and sit on it, protecting it's position. While there's nothing wrong with having money in the bank, it must not be at the expense of our mission! Pray with me for the vision to see how the Lord would lead us in the spending of His money.

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