Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Aid seekers need close eye

Research can pay dividends

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Andy Groves knows the student financial aid maze inside and out.

        As a counselor at McLean County High School, he advises students on scholarships, grants and other financial assistance available. As a parent of two college-going children, he's done a fair amount of looking himself.

        There are thousands of opportunities for free money for Kentucky students. But it takes diligence, smarts and often a particular interest to get the money.

        Many scholarships are based on financial need. Others are directed at students pursuing a particu lar academic avenue. Often, they are available only to students at a particular high school or county. The awards can be modest or grand — several grand, in fact.

        Scholarships created by a wealthy family in McLean County, for example, provided $4,500 to 28 students last year. Another program provided five scholarships worth $2,500 each.

        “We're very fortunate. The surrounding counties are very envious,” Mr. Groves said.

        But those scholarships are provided to the best students. Others can find the going tough.

        “You've got all these myths out there that there's all this money available,” Mr. Groves said. “But you have to meet all these crite ria.”

        The Stephen A. Delaney scholarship of $250 is available to a Pendleton County High School graduate, but only if they plan to major in drafting, carpentry or engineering. Similar modest programs are available at many high schools, with strings attached by the service clubs, garden clubs and various other organizations that sponsor the scholarships.

        The biggest scholarship program of all in Kentucky is getting off the ground. The state paid $8.1 million last year to the first 18,200 students who got scholarship money based on their high school academic performance.

        The Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship was created by the General Assembly in 1998 and provides money based on grades earned in high school and scores on college entrance tests. With each class graduating and earning money, the program will grow to an estimated $32 million by next fiscal year.

        The College Access Program is set aside for Kentucky students who show financial need. The Kentucky Tuition Grant Program is for students attending private colleges.

        There is money available for higher education that is not free.

        The Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corp. expects to make student loans totaling some $180 million to 21,000 borrowers this coming year.

        “I think money is not the primary obstacle,” said Gordon Davies, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education. “Knowing where it is and knowing how to gain access to it is another mat ter.”


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