Did you ever want to help a current Penn State student in a pay-it-forward kind of way but didn’t think you would be able to give enough to make a difference? Now you can help by giving any dollar amount from $1 to the sky is the limit through a novel microfinancing fund that will help students during a time of crisis.
The brainchild of a Penn State alumnus and his wife, Tom Sharbaugh ’73g and Kristin Hayes, this new Microfinance Match Fund will be used to make small loans of $1,500 to $2,000 at interest rates below the current market to undergraduates requiring urgent assistance. All payments, which students can defer until after graduation, will be returned to the pool of funds available for making new loans.
In many cases, the cost of college tuition and expense strain many families’ resources. An unexpected crisis—be it a death in the family, job losses or other unforeseen emergency—can jeopardize the continuation of a student's college education. That’s where this new program can help.
“Sometimes just a little support can allow students to overcome unexpected hardships, stay in school, and receive their diplomas,” said Sharbaugh, a lawyer at the Philadelphia law firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockus.
To get the program up and running, Sharbaugh and Hayes will match two to one all gifts made to the fund by June 30, 2012—up to $100,000 of their money. Any amount can be given to the fund. The fund will begin making loans this fall (2011).
The model for the program was inspired by the microfinancing programs being used in Third World countries, said Hayes, a retired federal prosecutor.
“The success of these programs abroad inspired us to apply the same principles here in the U.S. for Penn Staters,” said Hayes. “The initial response from our fellow Penn State donors has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Sharbaugh stressed that gifts at any level will earn the two-to-one match. “We believe that the Microfinance Match Fund will demonstrate the power of grassroots giving,” he said. “Because the recipients will repay these loans with interest, every contribution will increase in value over time, and the fund will be a sustainable and sustaining resource for students over many years to come.”
Giving of any amount can easily be done online or by mail, and all gifts are tax deductible. Give now or learn more about the Microfinance Match Fund.