ABF’s Grant: A New Skaptopara III Wing or Student Scholarships?
In April 2015, AUBG reallocated a $3.6 million grant from the America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF) for the construction of two additional wings of Skaptopara III Residence Hall to scholarships. The reason behind the negotiations for re-purposing the money was demand for scholarships for students, explained Alexander Alexandrov, Vice President of Finance and Administration at AUBG.
Initially ABF granted the money in 2012 to AUBG to finish the facility and have 287 new beds in single and double rooms, apartments, and kitchen boxes, to accommodate the growing student body at that time.
Alexandrov said that the enrollment of students did not keep rising in the following couple of years despite the expectations.
“At that time the plan was of growing student enrollment to 1,400-1,600, so we were going to run out of space in the residence halls. In the next years we saw that enrollment was not growing,” Alexandrov said.
The Office of Institutional Research at AUBG published a key ratio report in the Spring 2016 semester, comparing the average enrollment of students from the 2006-2007 academic year until 2015-2016. According to the report, the student body dropped gradually from 1,060 during 2011-2012 – the year that AUBG received the grant – to 920 during 2015-2016.
“It didn’t make sense to build residence halls that would be empty and at the same time not have the scholarship money to award to students,” Alexandrov explained.
The negotiations for re-purposing of the money started in October 2014, between AUBG’s Board of Trustees, then-AUBG President Kevin Aspegren and ABF.
Desislava Taliokova, Executive Director at ABF, said that the Foundation agreed to reallocate the grant, because of the need for scholarships.
Alexandrov added that after ABF’s approval, the grant was distributed equally for scholarships of $1.8 million for each year for the students who started in 2015 and 2016, covering the four-year education.
Taliokova said that AUBG is one of the Foundation’s biggest investments. According to her, ABF was always looking into the good relationship between Bulgaria and the USA, and AUBG is a representative of that relationship.
Alexandrov further explained that if the student body starts growing and has the potential to reach around 1,600 students, the university will be able to build the two additional wings of Skaptopara III for 12 months.