Hood College recently received a record-breaking gift of $54 million — the largest in our 130-year history — from The Hodson Trust. By designating 100% of these funds for undergraduate, merit-based scholarships, the Hodson trustees will help us better meet the financial needs of students. Hodson Scholarships are awarded to Hood students of outstanding academic ability who have shown leadership both in school and in their community.

I firmly believe that every person, regardless of background, deserves the opportunity to attend college. I also know that financial barriers persist for many high school graduates. These Hodson Scholarships are the keys to breaking down barriers that often hinder talented students. First and foremost, they promote accessibility to education.

Scholarships foster diversity and inclusivity, helping to ensure that education remains representative of society, which is invaluable to fostering innovation and preparing students to lead purposeful lives of responsibility, leadership, service and civic engagement — the Hood College mission. At Hood, our undergraduate student population has a diversity rate of 41.6%, creating a wide range of perspectives and experiences.

It is important to note that 100% of Hood’s undergraduate students receive financial aid, and 81% receive need-based grants. Because of this, Hood students graduate with less debt than their peers. The average debt in federal loans for Hood graduates in the Class of 2022 was $25,801, compared to a national average of $37,338. Hood is consistently named to national rankings and lists, including “Best Bang for Your Buck College” (Washington Monthly College Guide), “Best Value School” (U.S. News & World Report) and “Best Colleges for Financial Aid” (LendEdU).

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Scholarships are also an investment in tomorrow’s workforce. Students can pursue fields of study that complement their passions and talents, rather than making choices solely based on financial constraints. Scholarships contribute to the development of skilled, knowledgeable professionals, and Hood’s academic offerings align with the workforce needs of our community and beyond.

In the long term, this gift will benefit more than Hodson Scholars. The 42% increase to our endowment will strengthen the institution’s financial resources, enhancing our ability to invest in the educational experiences of all Hood students for generations to come.

Andrea E. Chapdelaine, Frederick

Andrea E. Chapdelaine is the president of Hood College