It has come to the attention of colleges that the large student loans required to attain coveted degrees are equalling less giving when graduates finally matriculate.
The Boston Globe had an interesting story on this subject Colleges fear debt puts damper on donations.
Hmmm...I have to hope this isn't coming as a surprise.
With a sibling just ahead of me in the undergraduate and graduate pursuits as well as my own pile of student loans, it amazed me that while I was still an undergrad they were already hitting my mother and I up to donate to alumni stuff. It accelerated once said sibling and I had gotten the undergraduate degrees. I think my graduate school can't keep close enough tabs on me, certainly they don't have my current phone number.
I think it is becoming a more common trend amongst newer graduates to think "I still owe them more money than I am going to make in the next year, five years, etc etc---I have student loan payments that are crushing me financially--why am I going to shell out MORE money to my college?" While realistically we know we're paying a loan company and not the university--it's a bill for school still.
Everyday we are encouraged to participate in many types of charitable giving--for diseases, natural disasters, all manner of school and after-school activity fundraisers, religious efforts, and more things than I can come up with at the moment. As we still perceive ourselves to be paying for school--it's hard to come up with a wish to donate more of our hard earned money in that same direction.
One other point I will mention, many people are very interested in how their money will be used, myself included. I can more easily see myself going back past the costume shop that was my haven for four years and getting a list of "We really need..." from my former supervisor and buying those things rather than sending money into an ambiguous alumni fund or showing up and offering to donate a water cooker and a case of tea (and cups) to the honors lounge for those relaxing times. Those were special and important places for me--I worked in the former (and reigned holy organization over our costume stock) and I tutored, studied, and slept in the latter. In that I could give back to a part of the school I felt benefited me. While I understand this isn't necessarily the best way to raise funds--it may be a different way to reach alumni who are still burdened with student debt.
Other than that though--as my mother has been telling the people calling for donations since 1998 (my sib started undergrad in 97)--once we're done paying for school, we'll consider donating to the school. I'm chipping away at that debt though.