“Every once in a while, a truly ingenious idea is born.
The concept of a student body-financed student aid fund is such an idea.”
– Dan Smith, NTSAF Co-Founder
In 1970 protest regarding the homogenous composition of the undergraduate and graduate population of the University of Southern California led to the passage of a student – initiated referendum. The referendum established a system whereby every academic semester all students enrolled in more than one unit were assessed a nominal fee of $4.00. This referendum was the idea of Ron McDuffie and Dan Smith, two USC undergraduate students. As students in the late 1960s, Smith and McDuffie came up with the idea of a fund to earmark the monies raised by this fee to provide qualified low income students, particularly those from the communities surrounding USC, the opportunity to receive scholarship assistance.
With the support of University President Norman H. Topping and the promise of a $600,000 matching gift from the Board of Trustees, McDuffie and Smith took their idea to the USC student body, who voted in 1970 to assess themselves this fee. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Topping announced his resignation as University President. The student council grateful for Dr. Topping’s contribution in establishing the Fund voted unanimously to name the newly created program in his honor in the fall of 1972.
To this date, the student self-assessed semester fee has increased to $8.00 which has allowed the NTSAF to contribute over $10 million in scholarships to USC students. In addition, the original endowment has grown over the past three decades through a combination of sound fiscal management and occasional gifts by donors allowing NTSAF to increase its programs and services for the Topping Scholars.