I came from a family with no money, but we all had aspirations for a better life. That meant getting a college education. Fortunately, college did not cost so much 50 years ago, and I and my siblings largely worked our way through school. I worked in a factory; my brother had a variety of jobs including delivering milk and selling encyclopedias, and my sisters all had other jobs.
When my single mother had a financial set back one year, we needed my factory wages at home. Fortunately, I was able to borrow money through Indiana University. I was one of the early student loan recipients. And I was able to pay back the loan after working a few years after graduation. Scholarships and Government assistance helped me acquire a master’s degree at the University of North Carolina subsequently.
After retiring as a corporate CEO and having worked throughout the world on corporate turnarounds and commercial real estate projects, I wanted to “give back;” I wanted to help others from families with limited incomes access opportunities available with a college education. I set up MacDonald Scholars, a program providing financial grants to need eligible students if they agreed to participate in supervised community service projects while a student.
The program started with one scholarship for one student at Davidson College near Charlotte, North Carolina. It expanded to four students at Davidson and then was rolled out to four other universities including Indiana (IU) and the University of North Carolina (UNC).
Today there are about 50 MacDonald Scholars and about 50 companion scholarships funded by other donors. There are about 100 students receiving an affordable education while helping others even less fortunate. This is what I call, “Giving Back and Paying it Forward.” And this experience led to my recent book, Education Without Debt, Giving Back and Paying It Forward.
According to UNC Chancellor, Kevin Guskiewicz:
“The MacDonald Scholarships are another fantastic opportunity for our students at Carolina to receive an excellent education and serve the public good. This book tells Scott MacDonald’s story and the story of so many students across the country who are struggling with the burden of college debt.
Institutions of higher education must address this critical problem so that our universities can continue to be engines for economic mobility. We are glad that Carolina’s commitment to access and affordability, and in particular the stories of our students and programs like the Carolina Covenant, is included in these pages.”
Education Without Debt, Giving Back and Paying It Forward, was published by Indiana University Press and released in January 2021. It documents the national crisis of excessive student debt and explains how it came to be. It also offers a prescription on how to deal with the student debt crisis.
The book is available from local bookstores, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble.
You can now order on Amazon here: