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Endowment fund growth allows more scholarships for students

Belmont’s endowment fund has grown 17.96 percent over 2017’s one year return, about 4 percent more than the National Association of Colleges and Universities Business Officers average.

Belmont’s return for 2017 was in the top 5 percent of endowment funds across the country, said Steve Lasley, Belmont’s vice president of finance and operations.

Belmont uses the endowment fund almost exclusively for scholarships. The rise in endowments in 2017 has allowed the school to increase scholarship amounts and add new scholarships.

“An endowed gift is a specific gift of $25,000 or more,” Lasley said. “It’s either going to be for a scholarship, faculty support and a department chair or a student mission or travel abroad type of fund. So those are the three things we favor, but the donor has the ultimate call on that, and that’s the one that binds us. The overwhelming choice of most members is scholarships.”

At the start of 2017, the endowment fund held $131 million. Over the year, Belmont earned $49 million in gifts and board-designated funds along with $13 million of interest, dividends and capital gains, Lasley said.

After taking out $40,000 of operating expenses, Belmont’s fund ended the year at $194 million.

“Seventeen new endowed scholarships have so far been established during the current fiscal year,” said Perry Moulds, Belmont’s vice president of development and external relations.

Like many universities, Belmont uses 4 percent of a three-year rolling average of the endowment fund for scholarships. This allows the fund to grow and keeps it stable to make sure students can always receive their scholarship money, Lasley said.

Any increase in scholarship amounts depends on how much an endowment grows in a fiscal year.

From 2016 to 2017, the funds available for scholarship endowments increased by $1 million.

Much of the recent increase in the endowment is due to gift matching from the We Believe capitol campaign, where the university matches donations of $25,000 – $1.5 million designated to scholarships, faculty support and student trips.

“If a donor puts in $25,000 for a media studies scholarship it would automatically move to $50,000, and that benefits students significantly because what’s 4 percent of $25,000 compared to $50,000?” Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said.

Belmont’s goal for the We Believe campaign is to raise $300 million for the endowment by 2020.

The endowment fund also recently expanded to include funding for mission trips.

“There was a really generous gift for missions that just came in that would offset the cost of some of those spring break mission trips or summer break mission trips that the school takes,” Lasley said.

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