Tom Benson donates $5 million to Loyola

Loyola University New Orleans students needing financial aid will soon get help from a $5 million financial aid pledge from the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation, according to a university news release.

The money will fund scholarships for academically talented students who have demonstrated financial need, according to the release.

The $5 million gift will be distributed over five years and is divided into two parts, the release says.

The first $4 million will be used to establish the Tom and Gayle Benson Endowed Scholarship Fund in which money will be invested and used to support Loyola sophomores and upperclassmen who have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average and have demonstrated financial need.

The remaining $1 million will be used “for support of immediate-use scholarships,” the release says.

“One of our goals as a Jesuit University, is to make a Loyola Education accessible to all talented and hardworking students,” Loyola President Kevin Wildes said. “This gift helps us educate students who would not be able to attend Loyola without the support of generous benefactors like the Bensons.”

Tom Benson enrolled at Loyola in 1944. Since then he’s become successful businessman through ownership of the New Orleans Saints, several car dealerships and small banks.

The longtime school benefactor was awarded an honorary degree in 1987.