Small gifts create big impact through the Crimson Opportunity Scholarship

Heather Morgan has counseled students in a vast array of life situations that affect their ability to cover the cost of education.

She’s seen students experiencing food insecurity, even homelessness. Some need to work 30 hours a week, on top of a full academic load, just to make ends meet.

“I know so many students who are suffering the stress of not being able to pay their bills,” said Morgan, associate director of student services, scholarships, and outreach at WSU. “They’re just overwhelmed.”

In fact, 20 percent of first-year students at WSU have a need gap of $7,000, or more. In other words, these students and their families must somehow come up with $7,000 they don’t have ready access to, in order to meet the financial requirements of attendance.

As a result, far too many students who have the talent and promise to thrive and succeed will incur significant debt, or otherwise struggle to find the resources to pay for their education.

In some cases, they may decide that cost of a WSU education is simply out of reach.

Gifts of any size help fill the funding gap

One vital resource that Morgan uses to support students is the Crimson Opportunity Scholarship.

Unlike many scholarships at WSU that are available only to students studying in a particular program or at particular campus, the Crimson Opportunity Scholarship is available to any WSU student, in any discipline, at any WSU location.

One of the most powerful things about the Crimson Opportunity Scholarship is that gifts of all sizes—from $1 to $1 million—have helped create critical mass in increasing the impact of this scholarship.

In fact, over the years, gifts of less than $100 have added up to nearly $620,000 in support of this scholarship fund.

Sage Scott, a neuroscience major, who grew up in a single-parent household with four siblings, has been a beneficiary of this fund.

“My mother could not provide any financial support, and my father was never a part of my life, so I simply wouldn’t have been able to continue my WSU education had it not been for the Crimson Opportunity Scholarship,” she said. Like most recipients of the scholarship, Scott also works to pay for expenses her scholarship does not cover.

This past year, the Crimson Opportunity Scholarships provided nearly $400,000 in scholarships to more than 100 students.

Click on a pop-up, make a gift of $10

One unique way to contribute to this fund is a pop-up that appears whenever you make a gift online to any WSU program—with the pop-up offering this prompt: “I believe in WSU students. I would like to give $10 to support the Crimson Opportunity Scholarship.”

The thousands of Cougs who have responded to this pop-up have contributed nearly $90,000 to the Crimson Opportunity Scholarship.

Luke and Jamie Wetzstein, both ’97, have clicked through on the pop-up at least a dozen times.

“It has always been a very easy choice for us,” said Luke Wetzstein. “It is the least we can do, considering how much WSU has given us as both students and alums.  Giving back is our way of saying thank you to WSU, and doing a little extra each time we donate is our way of putting an exclamation point on it!”

You can join the effort and support student success at WSU by making a gift of any size to Crimson Opportunity Scholarship by clicking here. Or contact Risë McGill at the WSU Foundation (509-335-7456,

“The Crimson Opportunity Scholarship relieved me of the stress of worrying about finances every day,” said Merial Barber, a student at WSU Vancouver. “It has allowed me the chance to focus on my education and enjoy college life. It’s the kindest gift a student could ask for.”