Tuition Free Week Emphasizes Importance of Financial Support



Tuition Free Week returned to campus on Monday, March 18, celebrating the point in the year when tuition runs out and gifts from alumni, parents and friends begin providing students with the remaining funds to complete the academic year.

The tuition free initiative began in 2010 when Colgate’s Annual Fund team decided that expanding the day to a week would have a greater impact in educating the students about the importance of giving back to Colgate, both while attending the University and in the years following graduation. This year’s Tuition Free Week was organized by Assistant Director of the Annual Fund Virginia Close and Coordinator of the Annual Fund Bethany Silinski. Close and Silinski also worked closely with 15 dedicated Colgate students who are members of the Undergraduate Philanthropy Council (UPC), a group of students that educates their peers about where tuition funding comes from and encourages other students to donate to the Annual Fund.

According to the Annual Fund, even families paying full tuition are not paying the total amount it costs to send a student to Colgate.

“There are all the little things people don’t think of – water, heating, paper, cutting the grass, shoveling the snow and that’s what the Annual Fund does,” Silinski said.

There are two types of Annual Fund: restricted and unrestricted. The restricted fund is for donations with specific destinations, such as an alumnus who donates money for the men’s basketball team or a specific club. The unrestricted fund simply sends the donations to anything in the budget that needs funding, such as scholarships, Financial Aid, clubs and other activities.

The UPC served as an advisory board for planning the week’s fundraising events. Signs were put up throughout campus advertising Tuition Free Week and the benefits of donating to the Annual Fund. The signs especially emphasized prominent alumni who consistently give back to Colgate and reminded students that certain buildings, such as Trudy Fitness Center, were made possible only through alumni and parent contributions.

There were four events during Tuition Free Week, beginning with the comedy show by Charred Goosebeak at Donovan’s Pub on the night of Monday, March 18.

“Everything was free to go to but we encouraged everyone to make a gift as a way to show their support for Colgate and to say thank you to those who have donated to Colgate,” Silinski said.

On Tuesday, the Annual Fund hosted  “thank-a-thons” in Frank Dining Hall and the Batza Meeting Room in The Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology, where members of the UPC met with various groups of students and encouraged them to donate and send thank you postcards to alumni who had already made gifts to Colgate. On Wednesday, the Annual Fund gave away “half-moon” cookies in the O’Connor Campus Center. Instead of having frosting that was divided half black and half white, the frosting was divided 66/44 to remind students that their tuition only covers approximately 66 percent of what it costs to attend Colgate. Tuition Free Week ended with Fitness for Philanthropy in Trudy Fitness Center on Thursday.

“I think [the week] was successful; we had people at all of our events and I feel that we were able to educate a decent number of students about why giving back to Colgate is important,” Silinski said.

The exact total of donations is still unknown, but over 30 undergraduate students made gifts to Colgate during Tuition Free Week.

Contact Kerry Houston at

[email protected].