When Gerry Ramirez ’18 discovered that Colorado College could help cover his tuition and expenses through a scholarship, he took a closer look at CC, and he liked what he saw.

“The Block Plan really stood out to me,” he says. “I want to become an engineer, but I also want a liberal arts education. I’m from Chicago’s inner city where you have to learn to grow and change quickly. The Block Plan requires a similar approach.”

Also appealing to Ramirez was an opportunity to take part in CC’s 3-2 program, which allows him to complete all the requirements for his bachelor of arts degree in addition to completing all the requirements for engineering school. After three years at CC, he will spend two years at one of the college’s partner engineering schools to complete his bachelor’s in engineering degree.

Rapidly rising tuition rates and external financial pressures can put a college education out of reach for many students and families. Consequently, endowed scholarships have become more critical than ever for students and for institutions of higher learning that compete for top talent.

Currently, 46.6 percent of Colorado College students receive institutional financial aid.

Recognizing the importance of expanding financial aid offerings and attracting qualified students like Ramirez, donors have been stepping forward and making a difference. Among them, the Walton Family Foundation awarded CC $10 million and challenged the college’s alumni and friends to match that amount to create $20 million in new endowed scholarship funds by 2015. The new scholarships are designated for high-need or first-generation students with financial need. To date, the college has secured commitments that meet the $10 million challenge.

“In essence these donors are saying, ‘I had a good experience at Colorado College and now I’m going to invest in someone I don’t even know to provide the same experience I had or one that is even better.’ That’s pretty remarkable,” Ramirez says.

Colorado College is a long way from Ramirez’s home of Chicago, but he has quickly adapted as he navigates his freshman year.

“I feel like I’m finding myself here,” he says. “I’m connecting with the person I want to become.”

A gift of ground water rights from Colorado alumni will support future scholarships.