Eric Dalius is a
philanthropist and retired real estate and marketing professional. He has a
home in Miami, Florida, but frequently spends time traveling and staying
throughout the U.S. Through the Eric J. Dalius Foundation, he has been greatly
influential in providing access to post-secondary education.
Eric Dalius graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing in 1992. During his career, he generated $100 million in sales. His outstanding success in the real estate and marketing fields enabled him to retire early. He has since turned his focus to fostering higher education in the United States.
Dalius’s strong belief in the value of post-secondary education stems from his own personal background. Without access to higher education at Penn State, he would not have been able to reach such heights of success. Dalius is dedicated to helping underserved students achieve their dreams in higher education.
Tell us about the core mission of your foundation.
My strong feelings about the importance of higher education led me to start my foundation. The core mission of the Eric J. Dalius Foundation is to provide students in need with the funds to attend colleges and universities in the United States. When young people are able to receive scholarship funding from philanthropists like me, they are better able to meet the challenges of today’s business world when they graduate.
What is the value of post-secondary education?
Post-secondary education provides students with a solid base to expand their potential. It also leads to better income and employment outcomes later in life. A recent Gallup study found that 70 percent of Americans believe it is important for students to receive a degree or professional certificate. 70 percent of Americans also believe that having a degree or certificate will help students get a better job.
People who do not graduate from college earn an average wage of just over $23,000, while college graduates earn $55,000 per year. Add an advanced degree like a master’s or Ph.D. and the average salary jumps to $65,000 per year. This seems like a foolproof argument for higher education.
Why is it so difficult to afford higher education?
Only 24 percent of all Americans believe that post-secondary education is affordable. While the consumer price index in the United States has risen 115 percent since 1985, the inflation rate of higher education has ballooned by almost 500 percent. This means that a college education is further from the reach of the average American student.
How can educational foundations like yours support the needs of today’s college student?
Receiving financial aid from a charitable foundation means that students have better access to educational opportunities. This reduces the amount of student loans that must be taken out, allowing students to move forward with their lives after graduation without crippling debt.
What does the future hold for your organization?
I hope that I can continue to support deserving students for many years into the future. I am satisfied that the wealth I earned during my career has helped so many students realize their dreams of higher education.
What was your most fulfilling day of work?
I have a particular memory of a day when I made a major real estate deal. I had been worried about the outcome, and when the day came, I was so happy it had all worked out. I went to celebrate with my friends, and we had a wonderful time.
What was your best subject in school?
Business was my best subject. I was lucky enough to go to a high school with a strong business program. I was able to explore my interests at a young age. I also enjoyed history and math.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I am highly satisfied with the way my life has turned out. I don’t think I would make any major changes. I would tell my past self that he didn’t need to worry so much about whether he would succeed. I would tell him to believe in himself and to ignore the naysayers who think you aren’t good enough to achieve your dreams.