Scholarships Help Students Avoid Debt|Southern Education Desk
3:39 minutes (3.35 MB) Download
|26 April, 2012|
A recent study shows the total national student loan deficit is nearing a trillion dollars. But in Louisiana, a scholarship that rewards leadership abilities is helping select high school students pay for college.
Mallory Danna is a senior at St. Frederick High School in Monroe. She’s planning to pursue a degree at Louisiana Tech in family and child studies this fall. Her ability to pay for the program received a boost when she qualified for a scholarship. Danna is one of forty-five students in two northeast Louisiana parishes to win a $1000 and a laptop. The award was welcome news.
“I’d been awaiting the letter in the mail for, like forever and I was so anxious about it. And finally when I opened it – my mom wasn’t home with me when I opened it – so I kind of looked crazy. I was jumping around, screaming about it, so I was really pumped.”
West Monroe Scholarship Winners,
Becca Dupuy and Taylor Guillot
The scholarship comes from the ‘Whit’s Warriors’ Foundation. Andrew Whitworth plays football for the Cincinnati Bengals; he has set up a fund for high school students as a means of giving back to the community where he played high school sports. Kirk Frantom serves on the foundation; he says that the organization works to target specific students.
“Identifying those kids that have leadership qualities, and of course, we’ve created a criteria in which kids could apply to the Whit’s Warriors program and through their application, their essay, letters of reference and depending on whether or not they met the criteria we would ask them back for an interview.”
Those criteria include a minimum 3.0 Grade Point Average, participation in community and school events, proficiency in athletics and a desire to pursue a university education. Demand for the scholarship is high; more than 150 students applied for 45 of them. That the competition for tuition money is so intense should come as no surprise. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York published a study in March that lists the unpaid national student loan tab at $870 billion. That’s more than the country’s total outstanding credit card or auto loan debt.
University of Louisiana at Monroe’s interim Financial Aid Director, Cori Smit says scholarships such as the Whit’s Warrior award help students stay out of debt.
“The value is great because the student will have to take out less loan money, which will help them get a better start once they graduate from college.”
Smit says student debt burden is high.
“The average student loan debt nationally is right around $23,000, so you can only imagine the impact of that on the student.”
She says qualifying for a scholarship is a means to take the edge off.
“It’s a way to relieve some of that pressure.”
Students Recognize Importance of Paying for College Up Front
West Monroe senior, Becca Dupuy, is a Whit award winner. She says it will help her pay to attend Mississippi College, where she’ll play soccer and study kinesiology.
“It’s very helpful since I’m going out of state and it’s also a private school so my
tuition is a lot higher than most. So any bit of scholarship, any bit of money I can get is always helpful.”
Her classmate, Taylor Guillot, is planning to attend Louisiana Tech. Winning the award gives her reason for optimism.
“It’ll be a great start to getting started on the tuition payments. And the laptop is going to help so much. That’s another thing I don’t have to buy for college, because you definitely need it, and it’ll be really helpful through my classes and stuff. “
A third West Monroe High scholarship winner, Connor Osborne, will attend Mississippi Delta Community College in the fall. He’ll play baseball and take courses on sports broadcasting there. Osborne is glad for the scholarship cash that will help him stay on the right side of the ledger.
“I understand that people have to have student debt, but also it’d be pretty cool to avoid it and not have that responsibility and just kind of get that pressure off my parents.”
These future undergraduates are fortunate to begin their college careers without the same pressure many students are under to borrow money. Lots of students haven’t had this sort of a break. And the total amount of money owed nationwide continues to increase with almost blinding speed. From the second financial quarter of 2011 to the third quarter, student debt rose nearly $20 billion.
Air Date: Fri, 04/27/2012