Investing in your future
By Kristina Morris, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, program officer
Each year around this time there are hallmarks of the spring season just around the corner. Another sign of spring for thousands of high school seniors across the country is the arrival of college acceptance letters. The elation of receiving that congratulatory email or welcome packet can quickly be followed by the panic of how to fund that education.
According to the most recent survey of college pricing conducted by the College Board, the average total cost of attendance at an in-state, four-year public institution for the 2015-16 academic year is $24,601; private schools average $47,831. Total estimated costs at two-year institutions for an in-district student averages $16,833. These costs include not only tuition and fees, but also other direct and indirect costs such as room and board, books, supplies, transportation and entertainment.
For most families, paying for post-secondary education can mean a combination of loans, federal and institutional financial aid, and family contributions. Scholarships can and should be a meaningful part of that equation, reducing the financial burden while allowing for students to focus on the task at hand – entering and successfully completing school. Many of the Community Foundation’s donors have set up scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 to support a student’s undergraduate or graduate education, and I have the benefit of managing several of the selection committees.
While I only meet a few of the students who apply for and receive our scholarships, I am always awed by their accomplishments and moved by their stories. Some are the first in their families to go to college, others are following in the footsteps of their family members before them, but all have high hopes for the future. These young people will become our next welders, healthcare professionals, engineers, software developers and teachers. Their success in the short term is closely tied to our long-term success as a region, and as a nation. Scholarships are one of many ways to invest in our future.
All of the Community Foundation’s scholarships have different purposes and eligibility criteria, but most are due on February 15, 2016. To learn more, click here.