Friday, September 19, 2014

College payment options unheard of

Lindsay Knox currently serves as Director of Student Affairs for the Kennesaw State Student

Government Association. She is currently a senior at KSU majoring in Early Childhood Education.

 Despite her rank on the SGA, however, Knox does not pay for school with any scholarships.

"I tookout my first loan this semester, and the rest of it my parents pay for" Knox said. "I applied for

many scholarships, but I wasn't awarded any from the university." This is the plight Knox describes

for most students she comes across, whether it pertains to herself, her friends, or the students that

may come to her for advice.

Rising tuition rates make college financially burdening to both traditional and non-traditional

students. Most students have either their parents pay for school, or the means of student loans.

Student loans are always expected to be paid back, occasionally over a long period of years, and can

accumulate into a massive amount of debt. Unbeknownst to many, there are scholarship

opportunities that often go unnoticed.

Many colleges hold what is called a Scholarship Day. Students with over a 3.5 GPA in high school

are eligible to be awarded scholarships with amounts of money able to rise depending on grades of

the applicant. This is the means by which Marissa D'Onofrio, a Physics Major at Berry College, is

 able to pay for a private college education.

"I attended a Scholarship Day, and if you had a 3.5 you were able to win about 7K. I would up

walking away with $14,500." Berry College's scholarship day in particular receives a lot of funding

from alumni and important big names such as Henry Ford to be made possible. D'Onofrio's success

in high school also helped her achieve many other scholarships and aid to cover expenses for her

private school education. Most universities will provide the chance for students to win several small

scholarships to add up to paying the entire bill.

D'Onofrio also qualified for a Berry Needs Based Grant of $5,000, which is provided for students

with eligible parental income, and a Georgia Tuition Equalization of $700. Georgia Tuition

Equalization provides non-repayable grants to eligible full time students in the state of Georgia

attending private schools. The goal is to provide an equal opportunity for private schoolers to obtain

aid when the HOPE Scholarship does not include funding for private school education. In addition,

she receives room and board half off for working as a Residence Assistant. RA positions at most

campuses can have similar benefits, not only discounted or free housing but also free parking passes,

reduced meal costs, and lower tuition. Resident Assistant jobs often come with heavy responsibilities,

 from mentoring younger students to solving roommate and neighbor conflicts depending on the

university. D'Onofrio also received a scholarship from Delta through her father's work and received

added benefits by working in the dining hall. She is enrolled in a student work program which is

helping her pay back her lone student loan of $5,000.

Students also may receive scholarships from being involved in on-campus clubs most notably

 fraternities and sororities. Senator at large Vivian Okere earned money for her enrollment in an on-

campus sorority "I received a scholarship from the sorority I am in, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which is

 available only for people in the sorority." Okere said "Most of it is merit based, you qualify if you

have a three point five but if you have a 4.0 you are more likely to receive the aid."

Alpha Kappa Alpha offers a multitude of scholarships for both high school and college students
providing information about the donor, amount of the scholarship, and specific criteria for eligibility.

Scholarships are limited to one per student and require the students to be high achieved, hence

placing a strong emphasis on grade point average. All of the scholarships listed on the AKA website

honor former members of the sorority and are focused on giving applicants an opportunity for a

higher education.

Some students may not make the grades for these opportunities, and even more so have learning

disabilities that prevented them from excelling in high school. Through the help of a government

agency, students can not only acquire much needed costs for college but also benefits for the future.

The Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Division provides services to people with disabilities to help

them in their transition into the work force and also help them to get hired by employers seeking

those with disabilities. Anyone with a disability that can affect their work in two or more ways are

eligible to apply, and each case is considered individually. In addition to this, they provide tuition

payments for college students with disabilities.

Jerica Dixon, a representative of GVRA, said "We provide help to all people with disabilities that

cause an impediment in your work. Whether it be physical, mental or developmental, all people with

disabilities are eligible to apply." The school system will usually identify a student as a potential

candidate and if a student is either interested or referred by a teacher, the teacher will later make

contact with the parents or legal guardian to enlist support.  Much like most financial aid, however,

GVRA only pays for a percentage of the final bill in a system called Call Sharing. This is done

through a precalculated percentage based on parent's or your own income shown on taxes, the

FAFSA, and any other aid that the student has been awarded by the university.

GVRA's main priority, however, is to get disabled people into the workforce. "What we do is we

help meet your vocational goal." said Dixon. "You set up a plan and we help you go over your plan

and check up on the progress."  Services will only be given to those that hope to achieve a vocational

goal in a career of their choice and to become employed based on that goal. Services do require you

meet financial eligibility and all paid expenses by the agency must be approved by a VR counselor in


When an applicant and a VR counselor agree that the applicant is ready to work, the VR staff will

help the applicant to become employed. Services provided include resume development, interview

preparation, and job referrals. The services that GVRA or any Vocational Rehabilitation agency does

not stop at college, but helps those with disabilities put their foot in the door of being a success in the

workforce. VR staff believes that finding the right job is the chief goal in providing aid to disabled

people and the active participation that is needed from the individual financially is an essential part

of making the process possible.

A various amount of scholarships are also available to students who are not disabled but do not

have the highest grade point average either. provides lots of different bizarre

nontraditional opportunities to receive funds for school. Such opportunities include scholarships for

writing an essay or studying abroad, or there are scholarships available based on the applicants race,

religion, or marital status. Examples of these include the ABA Diversity Scholarship or the ACHE

Albert W Dent scholarship to aid minorities or the Jeanette Rankin Fund scholarships that are a

benefit to single mothers. Each of the scholarships have different qualifications and requirements

which makes it possible for more people in certain circumstances to get a college education.

Best Buy once offered a scholarship opportunity for students, but has since permanently closed.

Since it began in 1999, the program's website reports that it awarded nearly $22 million to more than

17,600 students in the United States and Puerto Rico. The company will continue to be focused on

teens preparing for college by providing opportunities for teens to improve their tech skills to further

future career and education opportunities. They currently hold Teen Tech centers and Teen Tech

summits that provide an opportunity for teens to explore different technology to acquire the

necessary skills. The company does these programs as a way to add service to the community.

Though various alternatives to the loan process exist, they do serve as an important gateway to a

student's success. It may be the last resort and Lindsay encourages anyone who may ask her that the

payoff is worth the risk. "Being around my friends, I've noticed that most students use loans and

work to pay" said Knox. "When someone is considering taking out a loan, I try to tell them that

although it is considered going into debt that loans aren't bad if it means you are getting an

education. Then it's worth it because education is priceless and the key to success."

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