Sep 05, 2014 Leticia Fehling Aldine Area, Aldine HS, Central Area, Davis HS, Eisenhower Area, Eisenhower HS, Hall Night HS, MacArthur Area, MacArthur HS, Nimitz Area, Nimitz HS, School News, Victory Early College HS 0
For many high school students, whether freshmen or seniors, getting a head start on how to pay for college is a smart thing to do. There are many options to finance college. But Denise Keaton advises students and families to get familiar with grants and scholarships. Keaton is the coordinator of student financial aid in Aldine ISD.
A student’s financial aid award can consist of grants and scholarships,” said Keaton. “This is money you don’t have to pay back,” said Keaton.
Students can receive Federal Pell grants based on financial need. The federal government determines this through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Colleges and universities award grants based on financial need, merit or both. State grants vary in amount and are usually need-based awards. Private grants may use a variety of factors to determine selection. This could include background, associations, achievements, interests, and need.
The federal government, institutions, states, and private sources also award scholarships. These sources of funding may look at different factors such as merit, need, diversity, interests, or cultural and background.
It is a good idea to research the different types of grants and scholarships available. This is the best way to helps students apply for as many funds available that they don’t have to pay back.
There are many scholarships students can apply for. According to Keaton, in 2014 more than 500 AISD students received scholarships. The total of the 1,140 scholarships students received was $17 million. This is a 21.43% increase in value from 2010.
“I tell students and their families to visit the Scholarship link on the district website,” said Keaton. “Last year, we had students receive grants and scholarships from a variety of entities. Just a few examples include the Gates Millennium Scholarship, Jesse Jones Scholarship, Horatio Alger Scholarship, West Point Military Academy Scholarship, and the United States Air Force Academy.
“Students also received scholarships from Ivy League schools such as Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Notre Dame University and Rice University.”
There are also scholarships available to nontraditional students. Scholarships are not only for top scholars or athletes. Keaton said that some students worry that they may not qualify for scholarships.
There are always scholarships out there if you search hard enough to find them,” said Keaton. “Students shouldn’t limit their scholarship search. They should try to find scholarships that match their student profile.”
An example is the Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) Scholarship Program. In the spring, TCTA awarded Jae-anna Whiteley from MacArthur High School a $2,500 scholarship. The 2014 graduate is starting college this fall at Lone Star College. Her goal is to finish her degree at UT-Arlington where she plans to major in business management. Whiteley’s dream is to one day own her own her bakery or a five -star restaurant. Nicole Theunissen, a teacher at Hall Center for Education, nominated Whiteley for the scholarship.
“Jae-anna was in my hospitality internship class for two years,” said Theunissen. “She has a strong drive to succeed and to follow her dream … she is dependable and has an excellent work ethic.”
Amy Francisco, director of publications at TCTA, lauds the scholarship program.
“TCTA is where teachers award scholarships to students. It’s a program unlike most others,” said Francisco. “TCTA doesn’t just look at transcripts or the top academic performers. This group often has many financial aid sources. TCTA selects recipients who have faced hardships. The recipients would have a difficult time attaining higher education without financial help.”
TCTA is just one example, said Keaton. There are many scholarships out there for students.
Aldine ISD students and their families are encouraged to visit the Scholarship News & Resources page. At the page, students will find the following links:
The page will also give students access to the following:
The district developed Financial Aid Parent Nights to provide students and parents information. They can also ask questions to help the understand the process. The intent is to help ease the college application and financial aid process.
College Night can be informative. Universities, technical schools and branches of the military usually are present. Many colleges will also have recruiters available to discuss majors and other aspects of college.
“Financial Aid Parent Nights and College Night are great opportunities for students and families,” said Keaton. “They can receive information and advice. The goal is to ensure students have as much information as possible. They need to be aware about their options and the resources available to them. Years ago, the district was one of the first in the Houston area to hire a coordinator for student financial aid. A main goal is to have students graduate from high school. But we are also striving to ensure our students attend college or get a post-secondary education. We want them to succeed even after they graduate from Aldine ISD.”
For more about resources and information available to students, visit the AISD Scholarship Office page.
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