In 1991 the Gulf War broke out, Disney released Beauty and the Beast, and the BYU Alumni Association introduced replenishment grants. Though not a headliner, alumni grants have had a significant impact on BYU students.
Modeled after the Perpetual Emigration Fund from Church history, alumni grants are awarded to students with financial need, who are then asked to replenish the funds when they are able to so future students can benefit. Since the program’s inception, more than 3,100 grants have been awarded, totaling nearly $2.9 million. Students who are eligible can apply for a grant either from their hometown alumni chapter or the Alumni Association.
Replenishment grants began as a way for the Alumni Association to help students graduate in a timely manner, according to Roy A. Brinkerhoff (MFA ’84), assistant manager of alumni services. “It turned out to be such a good idea that it has endured and expanded,” he says.
Jeanette Douglas Voss (BA ’00), who received an Alumni Association grant, recalls, “My parents could not help me financially, and without the grant I would not have been able to go back to school. It took faith to accept the grant, knowing the Lord would provide a way for me to pay it back.”
Jared R. Daniels (BS ’02), who received a replenishment grant from the California South Bay Chapter, says, “My summertime job was not quite enough to pay for a school year. The grant allowed me to have extra time to focus on studies as opposed to working.”
Aside from funds raised by former grant recipients, grant money is generated from other sources. Alumni chapters raise money through donations and various chapter events, and funds for Alumni Association grants are derived from alumni donations and the purchase of BYU license plates in Utah. A typical grant varies from half to full tuition for two semesters.
Finding out about grants can be as easy as attending church. “I looked on the back of the sacrament program, and there was a mention about scholarships,” says Amanda C. Nuttall (’16), who applied for the Seattle Chapter replenishment grant. “I was so grateful to receive it,” she says. “Paying for college is not easy.” Flint D. Gardner (’16) was informed during an interview for Student Alumni president that receiving a grant comes with the position. “Getting the grant allowed me to have peace of mind,” he says.
Students who receive grants are highly encouraged to pay them back. “Before students are given the money, we make sure they understand what replenishment is,” says Brinkerhoff. Though the payback percentage is low, the tide is changing. “More grants are being paid off,” he says.
“I think it is important to get in the habit of giving back as a student rather than waiting until you are financially secure,” says Nuttall.
Letters are sent to those who received a grant reminding them to replenish. After receiving a letter, Voss paid the grant off plus interest. “It’s an overwhelming feeling to be in a position to give back,” she says.
—Todd R. Michaelis (BA ’90)