What Exactly Is the Momentum Campaign?


Hannah Shulman

The email was framed as a general threat towards U.S. universities and colleges and did not mention NYU directly.

Kyle Sturmann, Contributing Writer

NYU is constantly under criticism for high tuition and housing costs, which put financial and emotional stress on students’ families and can turn into overwhelming debt for its alumni. While NYU’s total endowment clocked in at $3.58 billion in 2015, the endowment per student is significantly lower than other prestigious institutions of higher education.

Despite these setbacks, President Andrew Hamilton announced he will be prioritizing fundraising for financial aid during an interview with student organizations earlier this semester. In particular, Hamilton wishes to focus on tackling affordability by increasing donations to the Momentum Campaign.

Former President John Sexton announced the campaign in 2013, with the hope of raising $1 billion over six years to be used entirely for student aid. Even with this ambitious program in place, most students are unaware of its existence.

Here is your guide to understanding what the Momentum Campaign is all about.

What is the Momentum Campaign?

Currently, financial aid at NYU fails to cover $200-250 million of student needs. The Momentum Campaign was established to bridge this gap by creating more scholarships for low-income students. The campaign was named for the university’s continuing academic success, and for the anticipation of keeping this trend with a diverse student body.

Where are the funds coming from?

There are currently no qualifications to be a donor, nor is there any stated demographic that NYU has sought donations from. However, 10 Board of Trustees members were among the first to contribute, donating $78 million.

What are the funds going toward?

In the long-run, the campaign hopes to build on NYU’s endowment and generate scholarship funds in perpetuity. The end goal would be for the amount of the endowment to sustain continuous growth of scholarship funds for students.

However, the campaign has already put in place initiatives such as The Finish Line Grant and the Global Pathways Scholarship program. The former provides a grant equal to 10 percent of a student’s need-based federal loan amount as they approach their final semester, and the latter provides a grant to help students with financial need study abroad.

There is a system in place where donors can sponsor individual student needs, and currently the size of the donation determines how the money is allocated.

  • A donation of $5,000 provides an opportunity for a student to study abroad.
  • Contributions of $100,000 and $250,000 ensure named scholarship funds.
  • A donation of $1 million supports one student’s entire need each year in perpetuity.  
  • In addition, donors can give directly to specific schools within NYU to funds such as the “CAS Annual Alumni Scholarship Fund” and the “College of Nursing Annual Scholarship Fund.”

Who is eligible to receive aid?

All students are automatically considered for a financial aid package when applying to NYU. The university takes into account both financial need and academic merit when considering candidates for grants and scholarships. However, the university stated it is committed to using the vast majority of its scholarship funds to assist low-income students.

Vice President of Public Affairs John Beckman said that the fundraising methods enacted by the Momentum campaign have been largely successful.

“For the fiscal year that ended Aug 31, 2015, NYU raised $127 million. As of now, the campaign has raised over $500 million dollars — more than halfway to its goal,” Beckman said.  

Email Kyle Sturmann at [email protected]