CLEMSON — Clemson University is creating its own version of an economic stimulus plan for students, targeting those most impacted by the current economic recession and state budget cuts. The plan will fund approximately 175 jobs to replace student positions that were eliminated in departmental budget cuts and will provide scholarships for students near the end of their academic careers to ensure that they graduate on time.

The jobs will include both university-funded positions and work-study jobs, which will allow Clemson to fully leverage available federal funds, which cover 75 percent of wages for eligible work-study students. Both will give priority to low-income students.

The Clemson stimulus program is privately funded through donations to the Leadership Circle, a new annual giving society that encourages unrestricted gifts, allowing the university to determine how gifts can best be used. More than $380,000 has been directed to the President’s Fund, which Clemson President James F. Barker will use to fund the student jobs and scholarships program.

“Students are our highest priority, and our first obligation is to ensure that students who have worked hard and succeeded academically do not have their educational opportunities cut short because of state budget cuts or an unexpected financial hardship caused by the recession,” Barker said. “These resources can provide income or financial aid that will help students stay on track to graduate. It is the best possible type of ‘economic stimulus’ because it creates jobs and increases lifetime earning potential by allowing people to complete their degree programs.”

Half of the funds will be used to create jobs, allowing university departments to restore many of the student positions that were eliminated because of budget cuts. The other 50 percent will be directed toward financial aid for both undergraduate and graduate students who have dire financial need that may not allow them to complete their education. Priority will be given to students near the end of their academic programs since the funds are for one year only. 

“We know that at this moment, we have students who are trying to decide if they can come back in August,” Barker said. “We want to help them say ‘yes.’”

Brian O’Rourke, director of development at Clemson, said 38 donors contributed more than $468,000 in total unrestricted gifts through the Leadership Circle, with the majority designated for the President’s Fund. Other gifts were designated for unrestricted use in the College of Business and Behavioral Science,  College of Engineering and Science, the Division of Student Affairs and the library. O’Rourke said Leadership Circle gifts are providing revenue that equals the payout on a $10 million endowment.

“We deeply appreciate both the gifts and the confidence these donors have shown in Clemson by allowing us to designate how the funds are used. We want them to know that these gifts are going to change lives,” he said.

END