Advancing Affordability and Excellence

As a first generation college student, Leah Olivo ’21 found it challenging to navigate the college financial aid process. With limited guidance, she restricted her initial college list to a few state schools. However, when she was faced with an unmanageable tuition bill at a large, public university, Leah took a gap year to explore better ways to finance her education.

Her research taught her to think big. Leah investigated top universities that provided significant financial aid, and Rice quickly became her dream school. During a campus visit, she felt inspired by the friendly and collaborative campus culture, and she set her sights on making her Rice education a reality. Now, in her sophomore year, Leah is full of enthusiasm and motivation. “I have figured out more of who I am and what my future will look like. I’m so happy here — my freshman year was an amazing experience.”

Leah’s story demonstrates both the potential for attracting talented students and the need to increase financial support and transparency so that more students like Leah can find their way to Rice. Rice’s recently announced financial aid initiative, The Rice Investment, dramatically expands financial aid for low- and middle-income students and includes at least full tuition scholarships and grants for those with incomes up to $130,000 (see details inside).

In the days following the announcement, alumni and friends responded with excitement and enthusiasm for a principle that is woven into the very fabric of the university – that talent deserves opportunity.

“When the Rice Investment was announced, I got really emotional," recounted Alice Walker '96. "But it wasn’t a surprise. It was a formalization of what I already knew — Rice has always been generous with financial aid. They treasure their students, and they work to create a supportive environment. Now we are sharing our values with the entire world. ”

The Rice Investment is a meaningful step towards true affordability. “For a lot of middle-income students, affordability really does drive the decision of where they will attend college,” explained Matt Haynie ’03. Thinking back to his own education, Haynie remarked, “I am so grateful for that experience. Rice changed my life, and I’m so proud that Rice is committed to doing that for more people like me. As an alumnus, I recognize that I need to support this initiative. It can’t work unless it’s supported by philanthropy.”

Initial excitement around the new initiative has already generated one third of the $150 million in endowed funding needed to sustain The Rice Investment. With the support of alumni and friends, this powerful program will yield generations of students armed with the values of achievement, excellence and an appreciation for true diversity. In this sense, gifts to The Rice Investment promise benefits beyond the individual student. The perspectives and abilities generated by a Rice education positively affect families, communities and the wider world.

“Those of us who were able to attend Rice when there was no tuition understand the profound impact that had on our families and our lives,” explained Susanne Glasscock ’62. “Through focus, hard work and determination, we earned a spot at Rice and experienced the satisfaction of contributing to our future success. The Rice Investment will give many more deserving young scholars that same experience, and through endowment gifts in support of The Rice Investment, we can participate in that sense of satisfaction all over again.”

Learn more about how you can support The Rice Investment. Visit


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