Sophomore Srikanth Bolla is one of many MIT students whose lives have been brightened by the Campaign for Students. Bolla, who is blind, recently realized a dream when he traveled to Hyderabad, India, to develop a computer-training center for visually challenged students, thanks in part to a fellowship from MIT’s Public Service Center.

MIT’s Campaign for Students is a remarkably successful effort that as of mid-May has raised nearly $555 million to support present and future generations of MIT students — a striking achievement in the toughest economy since the Great Depression. So far, 48,842 alumni and friends have added to the Campaign, which ends in late June and which has already exceeded its goal by more than 10 percent.

“It’s tremendous that our alumni are so dedicated,” says Chancellor Eric Grimson. “It speaks volumes to how loyal they are, and it’s terrific.”

“In a tough economy, our alumni and friends recognize that for MIT to maintain its position of leadership, we need resources,” says former Chancellor Phillip Clay, the driving force behind the Campaign for Students. “They also realize that we’re at a point in history where science and technology is more important than ever to solve the world’s complex problems.”

The Campaign sought to raise resources for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, curriculum innovation, and student life. “The Campaign allowed MIT to secure its standards, its support for students, its commitment to quality learning and quality of student life,” says Clay, adding that it also helped MIT protect its policy of providing adequate tuition support for any qualified student in need. In addition, he says, spectacular success was achieved in fellowship support, which enables MIT to attract the world’s top students. The Institute raised more than $228 million for fellowships, more than doubling the $100 million goal.

The Campaign impact also includes renovation of Maseeh Hall and The Howard Dining Hall, which enables MIT to expand the undergraduate student body to 4,500 students, an increase of about 250 from today’s enrollment. In addition, new residence halls have provided graduate students with an enhanced sense of community, and student opportunities for global experiences have been added.

Despite the success, Clay says: “There are goals that have not been advanced in the Campaign, so we’re not done.” The Campaign may be winding down, he says, but its momentum will carry us forward.

Grimson adds: “The Campaign is a first step. It’ll strengthen what we’ve already done, but a Campaign is a wonderfully evolving thing. It’s a journey.”