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Miami receives largest individual gift in its history

Miami University received a pledge for the largest individual gift in its history: a scholarship fund of $46 million for students eligible for Pell Grants.

The gift is from Miami alumnus John Metz ‘57 and his husband, Ali Khan. They made a commitment to bequeath Miami University $46 million upon their passing.

Brad Bundy, vice president for University Advancement, said this gift is important for the future of Miami.

“First of all, I think it’s really important to recognize the transformational impact that this gift will eventually have on the university,” Bundy said. “All of us feel that students for generations to come will benefit from their philanthropy. Second of all, I think it’s important because we hope that it will inspire other alumni to consider including Miami in their estate plans and giving back to their alma mater.”

In 2018, about 13% of Miami students received Pell Grants. Brent Shock, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success at Miami, said there is a process to be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.

“You have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA, and that information is pushed through a formula set up by Congress,” Shock said. “The outcome of that formula is something called the EFC, or Expected Family Contribution, and it’s the Expected Family Contribution that determines Federal Pell Grant eligibility. Miami does not actually determine final eligibility.”

For the EFC, Shock said the lower number will have a higher award.

“The lower the number, the greater the Pell Grant,” Shock said. “So, obviously if the federal formula says you can only expect to pay $100 towards educational costs, you’re gonna have a higher Pell Grant than someone where it might say they could pay $3,000.” 

As for the future of students eligible for Pell Grants, Shock said this scholarship fund will help them significantly. Shock said Miami plans to increase enrollment of eligible Federal Pell Grant students.

“What we hope at Miami, and what we know will happen at Miami, is that we’ll be able to strategically leverage this gift to increase the enrollments of Federal Pell Grant eligible students,” Shock said. “[Also] to help ensure their success all along the way for their four years at Miami.”

Salama Sarfino, a junior biology major at Miami, said she is very happy about the scholarship fund from Metz and Khan because she has a Pell Grant.

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“As a student who’s a Pell Grant recipient, I am thankful that I do get it,” Sarfino said. “To know that there’s going to be even more help for students who come after me later on is amazing. It is very inspirational. If I graduate, I do want to also work hard, so that one day I can also contribute to the future too.”

Sarfino said getting through college can be a struggle financially, so this gift will help students tremendously.  

“Sometimes it feels like you’re going through college alone,” Sarfino said. “I’ve seen other people who are willing to donate and it’s kind of like a reminder like, ‘Hey there actually are other people out there who understand there is a struggle.’”

Shock said the money from Metz and Khan will be invested by Miami, and it distributes a certain amount every year based on earnings of that investment. They then will award the distribution of earnings and there will be around a 4% distribution rate. 

Shock said this would then put the annual distribution at about $1.8 million, roughly, but that could fluctuate. The reason annual distribution could change is because every year a portion of the gift will be reinvested. 

“Every year a certain portion of that gift gets reinvested, so the balance grows,” Shock said. “It will grow from $46 million over time, so there will be a larger distribution … We’d roll it out over the course of four years. It would start with the first-year student and then that would track with them as long as they retained eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant. It would track with them into their sophomore, junior and senior year until graduation.”

Bundy said Metz and Khan have always held Miami close to their hearts.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing John and Ali for over 15 years,” Bundy said. “Throughout that time, they have consistently seen Miami as a place that is near and dear to them … and a place where they want their philanthropy to have an impact and be transformative in terms of the kind of experience that they are able to provide students.”

Metz and Khan were unavailable for comment.