Chancellor Rebecca Blank emphasized the university’s commitment to beef up financial resources for students in need after a University of Wisconsin need-based scholarship program announced it had raised $44 million to help students with financial obstacles.

“We have to be increasing financial aid dollars in this university, and we’ve had a wonderful group of alumni and friends of the university that have…taken up the Great People Scholarship opportunities and provided endowment funds to greatly extend…financial aid,” Blank told The Badger Herald.

The Great People Scholarship began in 2008 and has been dedicated to helping low-income students access quality educational resources, Ben Corey, UW Foundation spokesperson, said.

Aside from a starting fund commitment of $20 million by the UW Foundation’s Board of Directors, the other $24 million came from donations by more than 21,000 alumni and friends of the university, he said.

“Need-based scholarships continue to be a top priority for the university,” Corey said. “It helps ensure students have access to a quality education regardless of their economic circumstances, and Great People plays a big part of that.”

The UW Office of Financial Aid distributes the scholarship, preparing the different aid packages for students in need, Corey said.

Generally, students receive a financial aid package with loans, federal and state grants and work study, Corey said. But the Great People Scholarships program aims to make sure the rest of their needs are covered, helping ease students’ financial burdens, he said.

“Great People Scholarship helps to bridge the unmet need gap after all other available sources have been applied,” Corey said.