There is a look – you know the look – people get when they tell me about their time at the Station. They don’t have to have met their life partner here or have set a course for their future career path. Even if they were only here for four weeks one year, their face still lights up when they recall it.
The experiences UMBS provides are priceless. Yet they do come at a cost. Even the most affordable of our courses – a 4-week session for a Michigan in-state undergraduate – costs over $3,500. Out-of-state students attending our 8-week summer session pay almost $13,500, in addition to travel expenses.
Fortunately, we are able to offer many students some amount of financial assistance. We have 17 separate scholarship/fellowship funds. Better yet, nine of them are unrestricted with respect to recipients, allowing us the most flexibility in using them.
Our various scholarship endowments total around three-quarters of a million dollars. Not shabby, yet our anticipated payout from them in 2012 is $54,000 – enough to fully cover only 4 out-of-state students. Regardless of how we parse it, the money does not go far enough.
Students need this assistance. Many of them are foregoing a summer job to take classes at the Station, trading income for a tuition bill. Still others withdraw their applications once they receive our financial aid award and realize it is not enough to make the station affordable.
This is disappointing. Current research shows that engagement and immersion in hands on research, which is at the heart of student experiences at the Biological Station, is critical to attracting and retaining students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.
The Biological Station engages and excites students in all of these areas and has a strong record of alumni moving on to careers in research and other professions requiring analysis of data and development creative solutions to thorny problems. We want students to experience our programs regardless of ability to pay.
I am asking that you help make Douglas Lake memories for future generations of students. A gift to any of our scholarship funds helps. Better still is a gift to our Development Fund, which lets us use your gift where we need it most: scholarships now, other efforts once we remove the cost barrier for attendance.
On behalf of the University of Michigan Biological Station I invite all of you to return for a visit when you are able. And I thank you for supporting the Station in any way you can.