May 09, 2014 | Matt Kucinski

Calvin College leaders are pleased to announce they’ve raised $25 million toward reducing the college’s long-term debt. The goal of raising $25 million by 2017 was set by Calvin College president Michael Le Roy and approved by the college’s board of trustees in October 2013.

In just eight months, the college has reached its target. Le Roy says he was hesitant to set a goal that high, citing the difficulty of raising money for debt relief. But, he says, the faithfulness and generosity of the college’s supporters have ensured that the quality of the college’s mission will be sustained for future generations of Calvin students.

Working together

“God is faithful and the kind of response we’ve received is humbling. We are overwhelmed with gratitude to have supporters who believe in the mission of Calvin College and are committed to helping this institution continue to flourish,” said Le Roy.

Le Roy says supporters he’s talked with say they appreciate the college’s commitment to doing the hard work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations. 

“It was quite clear that we could not go and ask our donors and friends for help if we were unwilling to first look at ourselves,” said Le Roy. “More work is ahead of us to fulfill this promise, but the community has pulled together and accomplished a great deal in a short time. We are blessed by diligent faculty and a hard-working staff. We would not have accomplished much without them.”

Gaining positive momentum

The $25 million raised is one of the college’s five main strategies for closing the college’s current ($4.5 million) and forecasted ($7.7 million in 2017) operating deficits. The other strategies, include: selling non-core real estate assets over the next several years and using the proceeds to reduce principal of long-term debt; refinancing remaining long-term debt in 2017; increasing revenue through enrollment growth, new program growth, and differentiated tuition and fees for some higher cost programs; and reducing annual operating expenses $4.5 million by June 30, 2017.

Le Roy says if the college adheres to its five-part strategy to achieve financial sustainability, the college will reduce its debt from $116 million to $70 million by 2017, bringing the annual debt service payment down to between five and seven-percent of the college’s operating budget. Le Roy says that falls within an acceptable range for higher education institutions.

“We are making good progress on each of these strategies,” said Le Roy. “What we have heard throughout this process is that our various stakeholders are pleased to see Calvin taking the necessary steps to make sure the college is financially stable for years to come.”

The college has received $34 million so far in total pledges for the 2013-2014 fiscal year (which runs through June 30)—the third highest total in college history. And, the Calvin Annual Fund is on pace for another record-setting year in terms of gifts and pledges.

“We are fortunate to have such faithful supporters of Calvin, people who appreciate the mission of the college and are investing in that mission,” said Ken Erffmeyer, vice president for advancement. “We could not provide the quality of programming, facilities and support for our students without the generosity of so many.”

Michael Le Roy, Calvin College president

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