Sarah and Doug Claypoole with their children.

New Penn State Brandywine award helps students graduate with less student loan debt

It is no secret that higher education can be expensive, and that student loan debt has reached the point of being called a crisis. At Penn State Brandywine, the average unmet need per student is $12,777, a gap that is typically covered by additional loans — and the average debt of graduating seniors with loans is over $33,000. Additionally, about 25 percent of all Penn State Brandywine students come from low-income households, and more than 30 percent are the first generation in their families to attend college.

Penn State alumna Sarah Claypoole and her husband, Doug, recognize the challenges students face and have committed $25,000 to establish a scholarship at Penn State Brandywine. The scholarship will award $5,000 annually over the next five years to help Brandywine students stay enrolled and complete their degrees.

The Boxer Retention Fund, named after their family dog and their Philadelphia-area real estate company, will focus on supporting full-time undergraduate students who are sophomore standing or higher, who are enrolled or plan to enroll at Penn State Brandywine, and who might be unable to complete their Penn State degree due to unforeseen financial setbacks.

The Claypooles know firsthand the struggle of managing debt as a student. Despite working her way through college with several part-time positions and an internship for the Lion Cash program, Sarah felt that student debt held her back at the start of her post-collegiate life. When Sarah and Doug started their lives together, they worked hard to eliminate the burden of their student loan debt.

Sarah, who graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the Smeal College of Business, said that she would not be who she is today without her Penn State experience. Despite not having attended Penn State Brandywine, the Claypooles are neighbors of the campus.

“I loved Penn State [University Park] and always wanted to stay truly connected, but with Brandywine in our backyard, this is our Penn State community now,” Sarah said.

The couple agreed that it feels good to give back to the local Penn State community and help someone like themselves with this scholarship.

In addition to establishing the Boxer Retention Fund, the Claypooles have become active members of the Penn State Brandywine campus community. Since their introduction to Penn State Brandywine a year and a half ago, they have participated in on-campus activities and become involved with Career Services, and Sarah has joined the Brandywine Alumni Society Board. Both Sarah and Doug feel that their increased engagement at Brandywine and their reconnecting with the University were catalysts for their gift. 

The Boxer Retention Fund at Penn State Brandywine will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence

To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit To discuss ways to make a gift to Penn State Brandywine, contact Marleen Livingstone, director of development, at 610-304-4977.