By Bernadette Russoniello
At Maricopa High School, the No. 1 reason students cite for not planning to attend a two-year or four-year college after graduation is “I cannot afford to go to college.” Yet the federal government offers billions of dollars in aid for students, while private foundations and businesses offer hundreds of millions in scholarship dollars. Where is the disconnect?
Grants and scholarships are free money. They do not get reported as income, they are tax-free, and never have to be paid back as long as students meet the qualifications.
Here is a quick overview of some of Arizona’s most generous scholarship programs.
Flinn Foundation: Students must be in the top 5 percent of their class, have an unweighted GPA of 3.5 or better and earn top test scores to be eligible to apply. Twenty Flinn Scholars will be awarded a full tuition waiver, housing, meal plans, books, technology and foreign travel stipends at any of the three state universities.
Dorrance Foundation: Awards up to 36 students $12,000 per year to assist with their studies at one of the three state universities. Students must be the first generation to attend college, minimum 3.0 GPA, minimum 1120 SAT or 22 ACT and demonstrate financial need.
National Merit Scholarship is awarded to the top 1 percent of test scores in the state. Students must take the Fall PSAT as juniors to be considered for this award. Typically, universities waive tuition and give generous scholarship packages to both National Merit finalists and even semi-finalists. At our in-state universities, the typical package is about $18,000 per year.
Barack Obama’s Scholarship at Arizona State: Students applying to ASU must have a family income below $42,400 and meet one of the three academic competencies for ASU – 3.0 GPA, top 25 percent of class or 1040 SAT/22 ACT. The Obama Scholarship covers all direct costs of attendance (tuition, housing, food). Candidates must apply to ASU and submit FAFSA before Jan. 1.
Lumberjack Scholarship: Students attending NAU will receive a full tuition waiver ($10,000 per year) for maintaining all A’s and B’s through their high school career. This year, MHS has 18 Lumberjack Scholars earning more than $1 million in academic scholarships.
In addition to these major scholarships, there are hundreds of local scholarships ranging from $500-$2,500 that students can seek out and apply for. Scholars who want the dollars need to start planning and researching now, not wait until the spring semester of senior year to look for assistance.
Bernadette Russoniello is the Career and College coordinator at Maricopa High School. She can be reached 520-568-8100, ext. 4218.
This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.