Staff Editorial: Tomatoes and tuition

The Biola community should remember the generous donors who our education possible and enrich our campus.

Chimes Staff, Writer

The Biola community should remember the generous donors who our education possible and enrich our campus.

Although students may not realize it, many of Biola’s major projects and scholarships exist today because of the generosity of donors who they will probably never meet this side of heaven.

It is to these people— not to tuition dollars, government grants or cost-saving measures— that we owe gratitude for the new Talbot complex, as well as a number of new projects slated for the next few years.

Even tomatoes count

They are people like the 98-year-old woman who returned a tomato to the supermarket after realizing it cost her three dollars — “Biola’s dollars,” she told one of the school’s administrators. She has designated her estate to be gifted to Biola when she has passed on, and wants to preserve as much money as possible.

We have alumni to thank — people who want to give back to the place that gave them so much. They are people who believe in Biola’s mission to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ through each new generation.

Approximately seven cents of every dollar of Biola’s income is derived from private gifts, according to Biola’s most recent financial statements. In 2009, the university received $9,051,000 in total contributions.

Donations fund campus projects and scholarships

While it is true that about 69 percent of Biola’s total income is derived from student tuition and fees, that money is not used to develop new projects such as the future Talbot buildings, or previous construction including the library and business building. Rather, it is individual donations, large and small, that make those projects possible. It is also individual donations that make possible the Biola Fund, which helps make college affordable for the approximately 80 percent of Biola students who receive financial aid.

Times are not easy for donors, as for anyone else riding out this economic downturn. In 2009, U.S. colleges saw the most drastic decline in private contributions in 50 years at 11.9 percent, according to a story by the Council for Aid to Education. But Biola’s donors remain a pivotal part of the university, and continue to fund projects like Talbot, despite difficulties.

Thanking the strangers who enrich our lives

It’s humbling to remember that complete strangers sacrifice for students’ education. What would it look like if each student on this campus, in the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, wrote just one thank you note to an anonymous donor, thanking them for making a difference at this institution?

But beyond that, this institution depends on self-sacrificial individuals. One day, we students will have the opportunity to reciprocate what we have received. Some may argue that students have already paid more than what is due in tuition, and it is an understandable argument. More than $100,000 for four years is no small price tag. But donating is not about paying what is obligatory; it is about leaving an impact on a future generation.

Not everyone who graduates will earn a substantial income. Indeed, much of Biola’s mission lies in sending out ambassadors of the gospel into U.S. cities and even beyond borders. These are the people that our generous donors are supporting most of all. But now more than ever, Biola is equipping graduates to enter professional fields, people who will be capable of earning an exceptional wage (depending on the economy of course). While the alma mater may not seem like the most glamorous destination for your hard-earned dollars, God’s Kingdom is advanced through influential educational centers like Biola.

Giving for God’s glory

It is not the amount of the donation that counts, but the act of giving in and of itself. The widow in Mark 12:41-44 gave her mite, and Jesus certainly looked upon her with favor. Even a meager donation by worldly standards can be abundant in the hands of God.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner and finals just after that, it can be easy to get lost in our own struggles. But instead, we should remind ourselves of all the people who sacrificially gave and give to this school for our education. In honor of the season, let’s remember to thank and pray for those who have invested in us. May we not waste their gift.

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