Financial Aid

“I’m Investing in You.”

The Transforming Power of Financial Aid in Eagles’ Lives.

Having supported the scholarships of nearly 40 Eagles over the years, Sue Shea insists there are few gifts greater than a BC education.

For over 150 years, Boston College has stood as a symbol of transformation—personal, spiritual, and professional—offering a path to a better future for students from all walks of life. From the Irish immigrants who first sent their sons to BC to the servicemen who came  on the GI Bill and the growing numbers of low-income and first-generation students now at the Heights, a BC education has been instrumental in helping young people realize the American dream.

Giancarlo Monzon ’19 is one such Eagle. A talented student from a low-income family in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Monzon’s dream of attending BC’s Carroll School of Management became reality thanks to the generous financial aid package he received. Once at the Heights he excelled in his classes, studied abroad in Italy and South Africa, led BC’s Latin dance team, and interned at Accenture where he secured a job upon graduation.

“Without financial aid, none of my experiences would have been possible, and I don’t know if I would be on the same route that I am today,” says Monzon, who now lives in New York City and has risen through the ranks to become a management consultant at his firm.

Monzon’s financial aid package included a mix of federal aid, work study, student loans, and a substantial University grant made possible, in part, by an endowed scholarship fund established by BC Trustee Susan “Sue” Martinelli Shea ’76, P’04. He is one of many students who have received a Shea Family Pops Scholarship, Shea Martinelli Endowed Scholarship, or Shea Family Flynn Fund Scholarship as part of their Boston College financial aid package. All told, Sue’s contributions have helped 38 students pursue their education at BC—a number poised to grow in the years to come.

Some people invest in stocks or buildings or companies, but I tell my students, ‘I’m investing in you.’ And the return on my investment is phenomenal; I win every time.”

—Sue Martinelli Shea

The average BC undergrad need-based grant is $56,000. Depending on demonstrated need, that package can be considerably more.

Making it Happen

Sue was raised with a belief that education, hard work, and service to others were central to achieving the American dream. Her mother was a butcher’s daughter who earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in teaching. Her father served in the Army before he returned to college and, after briefly considering joining the Jesuits, went on to become a highly successful businessman and philanthropist.

It was a guidance counselor’s offhand suggestion that led Sue to first consider BC, which impressed her with its strong Jesuit foundation and respected education program. From her first days on campus, she knew she’d made the right choice.

“I had four glorious, unforgettable years at Boston College,” says Sue. “This is where I found my calling as a teacher, where I met roommates who became like sisters to me, and where I learned how to incorporate reflection into every aspect of my life.”

After graduation, Sue spent 15 years teaching in schools around the country—often severely underfunded— with a focus on students with learning differences. “I always knew I wanted to work with the children who fell through the cracks.”

She credits her time at BC for giving her both the skills and the confidence to take on even the most demanding situations, vividly recalling the day a professor told her class that, as Boston College graduates, they would never say “I can’t do it.”

“I was 18 when I heard that and it still stays with me,” Sue says with a note of wonder. “So, in every classroom I taught in, I had a banner that read ‘Never Say I Can’t Do It,’ and the kids lived by it just like me.”

In 2003, she left teaching to take a leadership role—first as a volunteer, then as trustee and committee chair—at a Jesuit-influenced elementary school that serves mostly low-income students in North Philadelphia. It was around the same time that Sue began to take a more active role as a BC alumna, participating in her local alumni chapter, attending events on campus, and making gifts to support the BC mission.

Sue relishes the opportunity to form connections with her scholars and encourage them at Pops on the Heights and similar events.

Personal Connections

Sue has made several gifts to BC, from endowing the deanship for the Lynch School of Education and Human Development to providing operating support for Mission and Ministry. Throughout, Sue found her highest priority was supporting financial aid. “I want other students to have those ‘aha’ moments when they hear things that make a difference,” explains Sue. “I want Boston College to touch their lives the way it touched me. That’s why I give.”

67% of BC undergrads receive some form of financial aid, including need-based grants provided by the University.

Sue began by funding Pops scholarships (which provide current-use support for one year), but she initially passed on the chance to meet the recipients at the Pops on the Heights gala. “Then one year Fr. Jack Butler said to me: ‘You need to go; you need to be there.’ So I went, and I saw the power of getting to know these wonderful students, of seeing the difference we, collectively, could make.” Since then, Sue has tried to meet with every student who receives a Shea Scholarship, many of whom have responded in kind, going out of their way to meet with her while on campus and to share updates on their families and careers after graduation. “One time, Vidisha [Pandey ’23] and I walked around [the Chestnut Hill] Reservoir and talked about what she was thinking for the future, what part of nursing she would go into,” Sue recalls. “That was the best time ever, just getting to know her.”

Sophia Rodriguez ’23 sent her a book with photos she’d taken during a semester abroad with a note that said, “I had this opportunity because of you”—and later asked Sue to be her confirmation sponsor. Ben Posorske ’20, an aspiring doctor who remains in touch with Sue, describes her role—as both donor and friend—as a blessing. “Meeting Sue and getting to know her over my four years at BC made a real impact on me,” says Posorske. “I hope to be at least half as generous as her one day, and I will always appreciate the difference she made in my life.”

Sue’s Scholars

A Catalyst for Change

The students who have received Sue’s support represent a broad range of BC majors, backgrounds, and career interests, from film studies to finance, nursing to neuroscience. All were eligible for need-based financial aid, and more than half identified as Black, Hispanic, or Asian American/Pacific Islander.

Increasing diversity and supporting historically underrepresented students are a high priority for Sue, who has seen firsthand in her classrooms how inequality can limit opportunity for even the most talented young people.

“Everybody should have the opportunity to have the best education possible,” she says. “And if I can help them do that, that’s perfect.”

Sue commends BC’s recent initiatives aimed at broadening diversity, especially its partnership with QuestBridge, a national nonprofit that matches highly qualified, low-income students with elite colleges, and Messina College, BC’s two-year residential school designed to meet the needs of first-generation and other underrepresented students that launches in summer 2024.

As a result of these and other efforts, the University welcomed its most accomplished and racially diverse undergraduate class this year, with a record 39 percent identifying as AHANA (African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American) and 11 percent as the first in their family to attend college. This increase in diversity epitomizes the very best of BC’s Jesuit, Catholic identity and educational mission.

The University’s commitment to financial aid serves as a cornerstone for this diversity. Already, close to 70 percent of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid, a figure poised to grow with the influx of students coming from QuestBridge—each of whom receive full-tuition scholarships—and through Messina College—who are expected to require significant financial aid. This reality underscores the necessity of increased scholarship support from BC alumni, parents, and friends.

BC’s 2023–2024 budget for financial aid is $166 million.

“We’re giving them the chance to have the same great experiences we had, and that’s worth everything.”


One reason Sue continues to invest in scholarship support is the ripple effect it can have on students—particularly those with limited means—as well as their families, communities, and the nation as a whole. For Carol Adu-Gyamfi ’20, a Bronx native and first-generation college student, BC’s financial aid enabled her to attend Boston College and, after graduation, return to her hometown as a middle-school English teacher.

“The Shea Family Pops Scholarship gave my family hope that I could provide a better future for myself,” says Adu-Gyamfi. “Having her support was very important, and it was touching to know that someone was interested in my success.”

Stories like these are what has made scholarship support so meaningful for Sue—and the countless others who have established endowed and current-use scholarships.

“You just need one person to believe in you,” says Sue. “If you can be that one person who believes in that student, then you’ve made a difference already. We’re giving them the chance to have the same great experiences we had, and that’s worth everything.”

Soaring Higher: For Every Eagle

For students like Giancarlo Monzon ’19, the pursuit of a college education—with all the advantages and experiences that entails—is increasingly slipping out of reach. In the U.S., a significant portion of children are growing up in poverty and, in many states, more than half of K-12 students belong to families earning less than $40,000 per year. This dire reality extends to higher education, where these students often struggle to afford tuition, textbooks, housing, and essential expenses. Many middle-income families struggle as well, earning too much to qualify for federal aid but too little to cover the full cost of attending an elite school such as Boston College.

Financial aid emerges as a pivotal tool to counteract escalating disparities in higher education. It enables students to afford tuition, materials, and living expenses, ensuring that talent, not economic background, determines their educational trajectory.

As one of the key pillars of Soaring Higher, Boston College has set a goal of raising $1.1 billion for financial aid.

Learn more about campaign priorities:

Soaring Higher: For Excellence
Soaring Higher: For the Heights


At BC, there are two main ways to support student access:

  • Endowed Scholarships, which provide student support in perpetuity; examples include named scholarships, financial aid funds, and endowed student-athlete scholarships.
  • Current-Use Scholarships, which provide immediate student support for one year; examples include BC Fund Scholarships, Pops Scholarships, and Flynn Fund Scholarships (for student-athletes).

Diana Chaban Griffith

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