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February 8, 2024

Colby College receives $50M Lunder gift to make 'transformational' change in student aid

Courtesy / Colby College Colby College, whose Miller Library is seen here, has received a $50 million gift, one of the largest in the Waterville school's history.

Colby College has received one of the largest donations in its history, a gift of $50 million from the Lunder Foundation, and said Wednesday the money will go to expanding the school's financial aid program.

The Waterville liberal arts college called the gift "transformational" and said its impact "will be felt for generations, and over time thousands of students and their families will benefit from it."

“A major priority for the college has been to open the doors of Colby to talented students from around the world and to ensure it is affordable for all of them," President David A. Greene said in a news release.

“Our leading financial aid program makes this possible, and it is only possible because of the commitment of the Colby community to access and equity. That has never been more true than today with this remarkable gift from the Lunder Foundation and its founders, Peter and Paula Lunder."

The Lunders are philanthropists, Colby alumni and longtime supporters who have made gifts totaling over $200 million to the college's art museum, among other contributions. The Lunder Foundation, based in Portland, reported revenue of $42 million in 2022, according to its most recent tax filing.

“We feel that it is vitally important to provide the means for qualified students to have access to the life-changing educational opportunity offered by outstanding institutions of higher learning," Peter and Paula Lunder said in the news release. "It is for that reason that our foundation supports endowed scholarship funds at 14 such institutions, including Colby. We are particularly pleased to support greater access to the Colby experience for deserving students."

Costs at Colby

Tuition, room, board and other fees for attending Colby this year total $83,720, according to the school's website.

Founded in 1813, Colby is a private college with roughly 2,300 undergraduate students, located on Mayflower Hill in Waterville. The school has an endowment of $1.12 billion and is in the seventh year of a capital campaign aimed at raising $1 billion. To date, the campaign has collected $800 million.

The college says it has more than doubled its financial aid budget over the last 10 years. Among the current freshman class, 16% are recipients of a Pell Grant, a need-based federal financial aid award. That number is a 2% increase over the portion among 2022-23 first-year students.

Colby and two other elite Maine schools, Bates College and Bowdoin College, came under fire last fall for poor rankings they received in a New York Times evaluation of students' economic diversity.

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