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Planned Gifts

What is a planned gift?

Many alumni and friends of SUNY Cortland would like to make a major gift to benefit the College; however, giving a large outright gift during their lifetimes may not be possible.  

The answer may be planning for a gift that benefits the College in the future. With planning you can achieve your philanthropic goals while meeting you and your family’s current and future lifestyle needs. 

A planned gift can result in added income for retirement years, current tax savings, efficient wealth transfer and the satisfaction that comes from fulfilling one’s philanthropic vision. The College honors these individuals by inviting them to become members of the Lofty Elm Society.Lofty Elm Society Logo

Planned gifts include life income gifts such as charitable gift annuities, pooled income funds and charitable remainder trusts; property gifts such as retained life estates; wealth transfer plans such as charitable lead trusts; and estate gifts such as bequests, life insurance and retirement plan assets.

How do life income gifts work?

Charitable Gift Annuity

This popular life income gift option is new to SUNY Cortland. It is a contract, in exchange for a gift, that pays the donor an attractive fixed income guaranteed for life, a portion of which is tax-free.  It can be funded with cash or appreciated securities for as little as $5,000 and can be set up to pay income currently or at a later date to one or two beneficiaries.

Mary, 70, contributes $10,000 in cash for a 6.5 percent charitable gift annuity, which returns $650 annually for her life, $380 of which is tax-free.  Her charitable income tax deduction is $3,952.  Mary is happy because her gift annuity pays much more than her bank CD and she has provided a generous gift for her alma mater.

John, 85, and Joan, 82, contribute $35,000 of appreciated stock in exchange for a 7.5 percent charitable gift annuity, which returns $2,625 annually for both their lives, a portion of which is tax-free.  Their charitable income tax deduction is $15,918.  John and Joan are excited because they have increased their annual income with a gift to the College that will eventually establish a scholarship in their names.    

Charitable Remainder Trust

This creative planned gift has few limitations and can be structured to meet almost any need. The donor has the flexibility to determine who will manage the trust, the length and type of income payout, the number of income beneficiaries, and which assets will be placed into the trust; generally more than $100,000. Tax benefits include avoidance of capital gains taxes on transfers of appreciated investments to the trust.

What are life estate arrangements?

Retained Life Estate

This innovative gift plan transfers one’s home, vacation home or farm to the Cortland College Foundation, but reserves lifetime tenancy for the donor and beneficiary. An individual can make a significant gift to SUNY Cortland, yet not disturb living arrangements or cash flow. The donor will continue to be responsible for the house's ongoing taxes, structural maintenance and upkeep. This gift will provide the donor with a charitable income tax deduction, based on the fair market value of the property minus the present value of the life tenancy retained.

What are other popular estate gift options?

Retirement Plan Assets

When an individual other than a spouse is named as beneficiary of one’s 401(k), 403(b), IRA, Keogh, or other retirement account, whatever is left in the account could be taxed twice─at the estate level and again at the beneficiary level for income tax purpose—up to 70 percent of its value, leaving very little for one’s heirs. An alternative is to name the Cortland College Foundation, which is tax-exempt, as a beneficiary of one’s retirement plan, and use other assets, not subject to income tax, to make gifts to heirs.  


Through a written and executed will, bequests allow one to leave substantial unrestricted or designated gifts to SUNY Cortland without affecting current financial security.  The official legal bequest language for Cortland College Foundation is: “I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Cortland College Foundation, Inc. [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose.” 

What kinds of property can one give now?

Property Gifts

Consider gifts of appreciated stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, business interests and personal property. Receive a charitable deduction for the fair market value of the gift and avoid all capital gains tax.

The Lofty Elm Society

The Lofty Elm Society honors those who have remembered Cortland in their wills or through planned gifts. 

The importance of these future gifts in support of the College cannot be underestimated.

Beyond the satisfaction of helping future generations of Cortland students, members of the Lofty Elm Society will receive invitations to special events, annual recognition in College publications and a beautiful Lofty Elm Society lapel pin recognizing their generous commitment to Cortland.

An additional distinction of charter membership will be open to those who have established a planned gift on behalf of the Cortland College Foundation and notified the College by June 30, 2006.

All alumni and friends of SUNY Cortland who have provided a planned gift for the College will be invited to become members of the Lofty Elm Society.  There is no minimum gift requirement. 

The society receives it name from the first verse in the Alma Mater which was written nearly a century ago. Today many majestic, lofty Elm trees continue to grace the College campus.  

How can I learn more?

Contact Peter VanderWoude of the Cortland College Foundation directly to request more information, a personalized gift illustration or a confidential gift planning consultation. 


Peter VanderWoude photo

Peter VanderWoude
Manager, Planned Gifts
(607) 758-5309

Peter VanderWoude began his career at SUNY Cortland in 2004. He comes to the College with many years of experience in accounting, taxation and financial services and is a certified public accountant. Peter was raised on a farm near Cortland and received his education at local universities. He has been an active member of the Cortland community for over a decade. Peter and his wife, Kimberlea, who is also employed by SUNY Cortland, have three children.