GRAY AREA: Alumni Association Worth the Money

Natalie Gray

There has to be a benefit to dedicating four or more years to rigorous college courses and endless hours of homework aside from getting a degree.

That’s where the Alumni Center comes in. An alumni center in general is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a center … for alumni.

Wonderful, but there has to be more to it.

Located on the southern end of Sacramento State’s campus, the Alumni Center is owned and operated by the Alumni Association. It offers catering and hosts several conferences, events, private parties and weddings.

Here’s the catch: it costs money to be a member. While I’m not shocked, it’s questionable why someone who spent so much money at the school as a student should have to pay more to be recognized for the achievement of earning a degree.

A lifetime membership to the Alumni Association cost $500. Compared to the $3,286 undergraduates can pay for a semester of tuition, the price of joining the Alumni Association is worth it.

“From a school pride and loyalty standpoint, it’s priceless. Even for those that are looking strictly at dollars and cents,” said Jennifer Barber, executive board of alumni relations.

For those not willing or able to pay the lifetime fee upfront, there are installment plans. Here are the current membership fees:

According to the Sac State Alumni website: Grads within two years of graduation pay $30 and grads within five years pay $100. Staff and faculty pay $35. Annual individual alumni pay $50 and annual alumni and spouse pay $75. Friends pay $55. Lifetime individual alumni pay $500 and lifetime alumni and spouse pay $750.

“For me, membership is a symbol of my support for Sacramento State. It illustrates that I have a stake in helping students and alumni be successful which I find personally rewarding,” Barber said. “As far as the tangible benefits, I’ve taken advantage of the car rental discounts, the Bookstore discount and many others.”

Believe it or not, some members are generous enough to give back to us students still scrambling through college. According to the Alumni Center website, through money donated by members of the association, it is able to offer scholarships of $2,000 in three categories: incoming freshmen, continuing undergraduate students and graduates.

“All the (scholarship) money comes from alumni,” Barber said. “We do a fundraising campaign each fall asking members to donate to the scholarship fund. This accounts for about two-thirds of the scholarships we award. The other one-third comes from a silent auction held in conjunction with our Distinguished Alumni Awards event.”

Students considering joining the Alumni Association need to delve into what profits them for the money they give. Discounts on insurance and cell phone bills are enough to make some people join, but potential members should also know how much of a discount they get and whether it outweighs the price for membership. A list of benefits can be found on the Alumni Center’s website.

“Any organization is what you make of it. If you’re going to join, it’s better to be committed than not. It all depends on what you want to get out of the Alumni Association. If you want to get something out of it, you can,” said Jennifer Gardner, president of the Alumni Association.  

Becoming a member enhances networking skills and helps alumni and current students branch out in the business world. It’s a way to stay connected with the campus community and continue using the many resources at Sac State.

“Every student should absolutely join, they have nothing to lose,” Barber said.


Natalie Gray can be reached at [email protected]