Instagram Combined Shape quotation Created with Sketch. 69

Pay It Forward

As the cost of college tuition continues to rise, scholarship support has become one of SUNY Potsdam’s greatest fundraising priorities. Most SUNY Potsdam students require financial assistance to pursue their degrees, and donor-funded scholarships help to bridge students’ financial gaps.

In 2016, four alumni – Mary Helander ’83, Amy Kellogg ’99, Sean Leous ’86 and Rita Schwartz ’58 – recognized that many Potsdam students’ level of financial need surpasses that available to them through traditional forms of aid. In response, they created the Pay It Forward Scholarship Program to help any student who is facing financial challenges that cannot be met through traditional funding assistance.

The Pay It Forward name celebrates the opportunity for alumni to support the program in honor of how their education at SUNY Potsdam contributed to their success, thereby “paying it forward” to current and future students. The donors also hope that Pay It Forward recipients will one day choose to give back to the fund themselves.

Today, there are three ways you can give to the Pay It Forward Scholarship Program:

  1. . By making a gift of any size to the Pay It Forward Scholarship Program, you ensure that 100% of your gift will be awarded to students within the next year. Your gift provides the flexibility to support students throughout the year when unexpected financial circumstances arise. Make your gift online by selecting the “Pay It Forward – Immediate Support” designation.

With a gift to the Pay It Forward Scholarship endowed fund, you are investing in the future success of the program and our students. Each year, the endowed fund generates an annual distribution of income that is then awarded to students. Your gift will increase the capacity of the scholarship by allowing the College to award more funds in the years to come. Make your gift online by selecting “Other” as your designation and specifying “Pay It Forward – Endowed Fund” in the accompanying field. Contact Sherry Paradis ’00 with questions.

The average financial “gap” remaining after a SUNY Potsdam student has exhausted all other forms of aid is $2,500. You can guarantee a student is able to continue their education by bridging that gap for a year. With a gift of $2,500, you are able to designate one criterion of eligibility (e.g., “North Country resident,” “geology major”) and the College will identify a recipient to receive your support. Contact Sherry Paradis ’00 to discuss your gift to support a student today.

Receiving support through the Pay It Forward Scholarship Program has enabled Myriam Butikima ’23 to discover her path to success at SUNY Potsdam. She shared, “The scholarship helped me want to stay at Potsdam even more because it was like, ‘Here is a start-up for you. We hope you have a great four years.’”

Read More

Additional Information

For more information about the Pay It Forward Scholarship Program, other ways you can help students in need or to establish your own named scholarship at SUNY Potsdam, contact the College Advancement Office at (315) 267-3253 or

Thank you. This support means so much to me and my family. I can assure you that it is for a good cause, as I am dedicated to graduating from college and creating a future for myself.

Anthony '24, Pay It Forward Scholarship Recipient