Today, the average price of a four-year degree in a state university in the U.S. including tuition, fees, room, and board is $21,370. This huge amount is the main reason why many students can’t afford to go to college. That’s why a carpenter made sure that 33 students will have a chance to graduate in college and debt-free.
Dale Schroeder is a carpenter from Ames, Iowa who worked at the same company for 67 years. Before he died in 2005, he went to his lawyer and friend, Steve Nielsen.
He gave him specific instructions to use his money to help send small-town local students to college.
“He wanted to help kids that were like him, that probably wouldn’t have an opportunity to go to college but for his gift,” Nielsen told CBS News.
He describes Dale as a “blue-collar, lunch pail kind of guy” with only two pair of jeans and had enough money saved up to make a real impact. Nielsen also tells the story when Dale approached him.
“Finally, I was curious, and I said, ‘How much are we talking about, Dale?’ And he said, ‘Oh, just shy of $3 million.’ I nearly fell out of my chair,” Nielsen said.
With no children, Schroeder’s secret fortune was enough to send 33 students to college.
The Children of the Carpenter
Kira Conard, one of the people selected to receive tuition money from Dale Schroeder.
She said that before she receives the good news, she was about to announce to her friends and family that she wouldn’t be attending college because she couldn’t afford it.
“I grew up in a single-parent household and I had three older sisters, so paying for all four of us was never an option,” she told CBS News.
Conard had dreams of becoming a therapist, but she knew that she didn’t have the means to cover the cost.
“[It] almost made me feel powerless. Like, I want to do this. I have this goal, but I can’t get there just because of the financial part,” she said.
When she received a phone call from Nielsen and was informed of the secret fortune of Dale, it changed her life. “I broke down into tears immediately,” Conard said.
“For a man that would never meet me, to give me basically a full ride to college, that’s incredible. That doesn’t happen.”
The 33 students who received the same call are now doctors, teachers, and therapists who call themselves “Dale’s Kids”. Just recently, they met up to honor the man who made their dreams come true.
“Dale would be extremely proud of them. The only thing Dale wanted in return is to pay it forward.” Nielsen told WSFA.