The Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF), which recognizes and encourages scholastic excellence and academic performance among promotional products industry employees and their college-aged children, awarded a record $200,000 in scholarships this year.
Funded by donations from industry companies and individuals, PPEF has doubled its funding over the past five years. Since its founding in 1989, more than $1.9 million in financial assistance toward higher education has been awarded to 1,113 recipients.
“We are all proud that the foundation continues to grow in awareness,” says Wayne Greenberg, MAS, chairman of the PPEF Board of Trustees. “More employees than ever before know there is money available to help send their kids to school.”
CNBC reports that tuition at four-year institutions continues to skyrocket, with public school tuition averaging $9,970 for the 2017-2018 school year. In contrast, tuition averaged $3,190* 30 years ago, reflecting an increase of 213 percent. The difference is significant for private schools, too: $34,740 for today’s students versus $15,160* in 1998—an increase of 129 percent.
Tuition is just the tip of the iceberg for many students, as costs for housing, meal plans and books also need to be factored in. According to the College Board, for the 2017-2018 academic year a moderate budget for an in-state public college averaged $25,290, and a moderate budget for a private college averaged $50,900.
The escalating costs of education are contributing to mounting student debt in the U.S., which now totals $1.5 trillion. Credit reporting agency Experian reports that the average outstanding student loan balance is $34,144, up 62 percent over the past decade.
PPEF received 569 applications this year, which is the highest in the history of the foundation and which reflects a five percent increase over 2017. The selection process was rigorous, with 132 students receiving scholarships.
“These numbers illustrate how far we have to go,” says Greenberg. “While we can never expect to fund 100 percent of all applications, we can report that there are many more students worthy of funding.”
* Adjusted to reflect 2017 dollars
Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.