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Good Question: How Much Do We Give To Our College?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Most of us have great memories of our college. But after years of tuition bills and loan payments, getting the call to donate provokes different reactions. How much should I donate? Do I owe my school at all?

"Obviously there's a wide range, many of our younger alums are giving $5, $10, and that's great," said Tony Grundhauser, Vice-President for Development at Hamline University.

According to Grundhauser, last year about 3,200 donated with the average gift landing a bit more than $900.

"Our students see it's those who came before them that make their education possible," he said, talking about the scholarships that so many students get to help them afford school.

"When asked why people give, they often talk about a faculty member they had, or a coach they had," said Grundhauser.

Hamline said it raised $10 million from alumni last year; "A good year for us," said Grundhauser.

University of St. Thomas is just wrapping up a $500 million capital fundraising campaign.

"I got my career from it, I created a great life out of this education, so I do want to help the next generation of kids be able to afford to come here," said Steve Hoeppner, Executive Director of Development at St. Thomas.

The school has a new student center, athletic center, and football stadium scoreboard. School trustee Lee Anderson and his wife Penny donated $60 million, the largest single donation for any Minnesota school in 2007.

"The big gifts are important. They make buildings happen. But the whole giving program is built on having many thousands of people who give smaller amounts," said Hoeppner.

He said the school had about 15,000 donors last year, "I would say 14,000 gave less than $1,000."

The Council for Aid to Education puts the average college donation at $1,224, up slightly from the 2010 donation of $1,080.

CAE ranks the top 20 fundraising schools, and University of Minnesota makes the list at number 20.

According to the school, in 2011 they had 79,137 donors: 44,663 alums, 29,980 others, and 4,494 organizations.

The total gifts added up to $221 million. The school is running a television ad designed to appeal to people to donate for student scholarships.

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