Mercersburg Academy Receives $100 Million From Alumna

, a private four-year college preparatory school in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, has received a $100 million gift in support of financial aid, faculty development, and facilities and program enhancements, the reports.

The gift from alumna Deborah Joy Simon ('74) — one of the largest ever made to an independent school in the United States — will ensure that an applicant's ability to pay the annual tuition of $51,000 is not a factor in the admissions process. Nearly half the four hundred and fifty students who attend the school receive some type of financial aid. Simon's donation to the school has three components: a $50 million gift, $25 million in matching funds, and a $25 million estate commitment.

Simon, who today is chair of the Indianapolis-based , told the AP that she arrived at the school during a difficult time in her life and found it to be "one of the most magical places I've ever been." She later joined her family's real estate firm, the , and subsequently worked in the entertainment industry.

The gift comes six years after the , a private college prep school in Newtown, Pennsylvania, received $128.5 million — the largest gift ever to a secondary school in the U.S. — from alumna Barbara Dodd Anderson. In 1993, the late Walter Annenberg gave $100 million to the , a private academy he attended in Hightstown, New Jersey.

"It affirms that what we're doing is important work and worthwhile work, and it really transforms young people's lives," Mercersburg administrator Douglas Hale told the AP. "I hope it will help people to step back and realize those places in their lives that have been formative for them. Those places need support."

Kathy Matheson. "." Associated Press 10/10/2013.