University alumni groups have always eagerly welcomed new grads to their loyal ranks.
But as a stagnant economy and state funding cutbacks up the ante for private fundraising to boost financial aid, development offices and foundations for public institutions are taking a page from private schools that long have connected with potential donors before they even graduate.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison solicits pledges from seniors while they're still immersed in the college experience and before they start paying back their loans. This was the second year for UW-Madison's IGave Campaign for graduating seniors.
Private donations increasingly are being relied upon to fund need-based financial aid as state funding is reduced, said Alisa Robertson, who oversees marketing for the UW-Madison Foundation.