William (Bill) Schilling, C’66, L’69, who served as Director of Student Financial Aid (later Student Financial Services, or SFS) from 1981 to 2021, died on December 9, 2021 after a brief and sudden struggle with cancer. He was 76 years old.
Born in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, Mr. Schilling graduated from Upper Darby High School, then came to Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences, where he graduated in 1966. Three years later, Mr. Schilling was earned a law degree from Penn Law. In 1970, he joined the staff of Penn as an upper class aid worker in the student financial aid department. From there, Mr. Schilling rose through the ranks, becoming Deputy Department Director, then Associate Director, Acting Director and, in 1981, Director.
During his tenure at Penn, Mr. Schilling was committed to making an Ivy League education possible for students of all backgrounds and means. He oversaw the multiple expansion of Penn’s undergraduate financial aid program and pioneered a loan-free aid policy, ensuring needy students only receive scholarships, not loans. , to support their studies. In 1997, he led an initiative to improve Penn’s graduation rates by alleviating the financial hardship that had forced students to drop out (Almanac October 28, 1997). He supplemented this work for educational equity by volunteering with the College Board and the Mendenhall-Tyson Scholarship Foundation.
Mr. Schilling has been active in Penn’s life, serving on several committees of the Faculty Senate and University Council (as well as several ad hoc committees focused on financial aid) and frequently presenting to them on the state of the financial aid to Penn. In 1996, he joined the Penn’s 25-Year Club. He continued to find innovative ways to make Penn more accessible to students, including partnering with scholarship organizations and advocating for a generous amount of money raised in the make history fundraising campaign to support undergraduate aid. Mr. Schilling retired from Penn in 2012 but remained with SFS until 2016 as a temporary worker. After his retirement, Penn’s directors passed a resolution of appreciation for Mr. Schilling for his “significant and positive impact[ing] the lives of thousands of Penn students” (Almanac July 17, 2012).
Mr. Schilling is survived by his wife, Patricia; children, Amy (Lenny) Liberatore, Donny (Bonnie) Charlesworth, Gail (Lawrence) Harrington and William “Drew” Schilling; and seven grandchildren. A memorial service was held on December 18, 2021. Donations in Mr. Schilling’s name may be made to the Church of the Holy Comforter in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.