Charity students at New England colleges before 1800 always had depended on individual patrons and small institutions to provide the kind of financial assistance which more fortunate students received from their families. Every year a few orphans and impoverished young men who had distinguished themselves as village scholars were sent to college as wards of prominent townspeople or as beneficiaries of their church charity funds. Since most patrons and churches could support only one or two students at irregular intervals, the scale of patronage in the eighteenth century had made it possible to think of student aid in familial terms: patrons, churches, local charitable societies, and even college officials—who rarely had funds to offer—all assumed an intimate, paternal watchfulness over these adopted sons. The rise of the American Education Society after 1815 altered these old assumptions. No longer did indigent students depend solely upon small sources of charity in their own communities, or experience the kind of paternal watchfulness that had always accompanied the charity they received, for they could turn instead to an institution too large to function like a family. As the number of A.E.S. beneficiaries climbed toward 1,000, totally new arrangements for student aid appeared, transforming the situation of indigent students in the nineteenth century, creating an organization of unprecedented size and influence over the American student population.