Winter 2013 E-Newsletter


In 2013, there are many things which ICW, our ten member colleges and 40,000 students can open our heart to:

We have lots of love to give, and our campuses do too.

SPU’s Sandy Zimmermann Is Saving for Success With ICW’s New Matched College Savings Program

SPU Sandy ZSandy Zimmermann gets teary-eyed talking about how grateful she is to be on a small campus with
experienced professors and focused classmates.

A freshman at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), Sandy is living her dream. For Sandy, enrolling at SPU took much more than simply filling out the application. As one of the first in her extended family to attend college, Sandy is changing the way her family has been and will be for generations.

Since she was in 8th grade, Sandy, her mom and her step-father have been living in a low-budget motel in the SeaTac area. Looking back to her great-grandmother’s generation, Sandy says that most of her family members had children at a very young age, creating an economic burden and limiting access to higher education. Many received state assistance to support themselves and their children, creating a cycle of poverty.

One of the First Students in ICW’s New Matched College Savings Program… Sandy is Committed to Breaking the Cycle

As one of the first students to enroll in ICW’s new Matched College Savings Program (MCSP), Sandy’s commitment to breaking that cycle and getting “a good start in life” with a quality education has a special significance in both her family’s and Washington’s history.

What is MCSP? The Matched Colleges Savings Program is Washington’s first asset building program for students enrolled in Washington’s independent colleges. The program works by matching student savings 5:1 with a combination of federal and private funds. Students are required to save a minimum of $44 every month for 36-months and to attend a 10-hour financial literacy class. By the end of the program, enrolled students will have access to a minimum of $9,584 to apply toward tuition and/or college-related supplies. Unlike a scholarship, the MCSP is based entirely on income eligibility – students must be at or below 200% of poverty level – and the student’s commitment to save toward college expenses and earning their degree.

To save her $44/month, Sandy works cleaning houses. While saving isn’t always easy, she says, it is doable. And the benefits of a 500% match and an excellent education certainly make saving worth it. “Even if I weren’t in the program,” she says, “I would still need to save for school.”

At the end of her sophomore year at SPU, a large scholarship Sandy was awarded will no longer be available. She plans to use her MCSP money toward tuition for junior and senior year. Sandy plans to also search for additional scholarships, but says “it’s really comforting to have [the MCSP money] to fall back on.”

Even though Sandy still has to secure additional funding with scholarships and loans for her junior and senior year, she says attending SPU is worth the extra effort. Had she chosen to attend a larger, public university her State Need Grant and Pell awards would have covered most of her college expenses. In addition to 94 percent of professors holding a Ph.D. and 75% of classes with 30 or fewer students, plus a “great German program,” Sandy says, “SPU made an effort to get to know who I am.”

These kind of personal relationships have been and remain an important motivation and inspiration in Sandy’s life. Watching her family, friends, peers and mentors “rise and fall” has helped Sandy decide what kind of person she wants to be and what kind of life she wants to lead. “I’ve never settled for average from myself,” she says. “I always expect the best I can do.”

Sandy plans to continue to do her best by earning her degree in Accounting, Business Administration or International Business with a minor in German so that she can live and work in Germany someday. She also intends to set a new example for her family, especially her 2-year-old niece.

To all of the generous MCSP donors, Sandy says:

“You are contributing to making education equally available to all so that kids from lower income backgrounds never have to settle for less. Thank you!”Sandy Zimmermann, SPU class of 2016

A special thanks to the Highline Schools Foundation for sharing this video


Why we Love the “liberal arts”

Just what is a “liberal arts” degree? While content varies with majors, there are a number of fundamental skills cultivated across the diverse array of liberal arts degrees.

Liberal arts degrees prepare students in critical skill areas:

  • Analysis, critical thinking, the ability to see patterns and connections across different fields;
  • Capacity to see issues from a variety of perspectives;
  • Communication skills, both written and spoken;
  • The ability to apply knowledge creatively to new situations; and
  • Problem-solving and teamwork.

Learn how to learn…within an ethical framework

Liberal arts majors learn how to learn. Technology is changing ever more rapidly. The challenges that will face industries and our society 20 years from now cannot yet be imagined. The versatility, adaptability and flexibility of liberal arts graduates speak to some of their most important and enduring assets.
An education in the liberal arts equips graduates to apply all these skills within an ethical framework.

Liberal Arts intertwined with STEM and Health Care

Carousel-Physics_cjt_PlasmaTube_050_1We hear a lot these days from policymakers, business leaders and editorial writers about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. There are sound reasons for placing a high priority on these subjects.

Technical skills alone will not provide guidance for expressing our deepest moral convictions, resolving conflicting values or answering questions of purpose – the ‘why,’ not just the ‘how.’ As Seattle University president Stephen Sundborg, S.J., has put it, “It matters where the STEM is planted.”

The colleges that are members of Independent Colleges of Washington are doing their share – and more – in these high priority fields.

While our colleges produce one in five bachelor’s and higher level degrees conferred in Washington across all fields of study, we produce 23 percent of the bachelors degrees in biology and health professions, 25% of the math and statistics degrees, 30% of the physical science degrees and and 33 percent of the nursing degrees.

While ICW-member colleges are in full support of expanding STEM degree production, our colleges never forget their foundation, their roots and their missions.

Our Colleges are Proud to be Grounded in the Liberal Arts

Our colleges are proud to be grounded in the liberal arts. Washington’s higher education system must help to raise overall educational attainment, provide opportunities for social mobility and strengthen the foundation for a more innovative and dynamic state economy. The liberal arts are crucial not only for boosting STEM degree production but also for achieving these broader goals.

STEM graduates need coursework in a wide range of fields, from literature and philosophy to music and history, to achieve a well-balanced broad education.

Students earning degrees in fields outside the STEM disciplines are every bit as important to our state’s economic and social future as our STEM majors are.

A College Education is Preparation for a Lifetime of Work

A college education is preparation for a lifetime of work, not just the first entry-level job out of college.
Even in times like these when liberal arts graduates may have a little tougher time getting careers started, “evidence shows that they tend to advance farther and be more sought out by CEOs for high-level jobs,” according to Katharine Hansen, who writes for the job-hunting website Quintessential Careers. Liberal arts graduates rarely find themselves restricted to just one career path, as is sometimes the case in more specific, technical fields.

According to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, recent surveys of employers show that 40 percent of employers do not care which major an undergraduate chose because they are simply looking for good people from all majors. Many other employers look for a balance that includes both technical training and a liberal arts education.

No college degree is a guarantee of a great job offer the day after graduation. But liberal arts graduates are well positioned to succeed over the long haul in one or many career directions – in addition to having the tools for being engaged citizens, ethical members of the community, and active contributors to the well-being of themselves, their families and our society.

“It matters where the STEM is planted.”Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., President, Seattle University

2013 ICW College Bound All-Stars

In 2007, the College Bound Scholarship program was launched to improve high school graduation and college enrollment rates for low-income students by offering an early promise of financial aid to qualifying 7th and 8th graders. Students who kept good grades and out of trouble through high school would receive a scholarship to cover tuition (at public college rates) plus a small book allowance. The College Bound Scholarship award follows the student and may be used at two- or four-year public and private colleges and universities in Washington, including all ten ICW member colleges, and combines with State Need Grant and other state financial aid.

This fall, the first cohort of College Bound Scholars started at the college of their choice, and among ICW colleges, over 275 low-income students moved onto campus for their first year of college. Analysis of high school graduates in Tacoma indicates that College Bound Scholars graduated at significantly higher rates than low-income peers and the overall student body regardless of income. <check this>

The 2013 College Bound All-Stars (below) join the larger “team” of Student Aid All-Stars whose individual stories represent the four thousand other State Need Grant eligible or receiving students at our ten member, private non-profit colleges. Six years ago, College Bound Scholars committed to good citizenship and rigorous scholarship. They maintained that commitment through high school and are now are on the path to success.