Current or future college students in Stanislaus County looking for financial assistance but seeking to avoid stacks of applications need look no further than the Stanislaus Community Foundation Scholarship Program, which is offering students a way to apply to 18 different scholarships through one central application process.
Since its inception in 2002, the Stanislaus Community Foundation and its partners have awarded more than $555,000 to over 1,000 students. Scholarships have been established by generous donors, including individuals, families, organizations and businesses from the community. Scholarship awards this year range from $500 to $5,000.
"Our best bet for moving our region forward is to invest in our local students," said Stanislaus Community Foundation CEO Marian Kaanon. "Studies show that every year of post-secondary education that a local student receives is directly linked to our county's economic vibrancy. We believe that equipping our kids with scholarship dollars to pursue college and career goals is an investment with returns."
Through the foundation's online application system, eligible applicants are matched to scholarship funds, providing a central application process to simply access for students seeking financial aid. To qualify for scholarship funding, students must be a resident of Stanislaus County, currently enrolled or plan to attend an accredited two- or four-year college, university or vocational college, and plan to be a full-time student.
However, some scholarships have additional requirements as well.
"We have a list of scholarships that were established by donors with different intents - some with broad criteria, some are more specific," said Stanislaus Community Foundation Program Director Amanda Hughes. "Stanislaus Community Foundation manages all of those scholarships on behalf of donors in addition to the scholarships we have."
New this year, the Stanislaus Futures Scholarship is open to graduating seniors from Central Valley, Ceres, Turlock, Johansen, Patterson, Riverbank and Waterford high schools who demonstrate a financial need. Launched in September 2016, Stanislaus Futures is led by the Stanislaus Community Foundation and community partners to build scholarship funds for college-bound students in the region. With three focus areas - access, attain and align - the initiative is a long-term, large-scale effort to increase the number of college graduates in Stanislaus County.
"This is a scholarship fund that was seeded with the College Futures Foundation, which is a private foundation investing in community foundations across the state to improve the college-going rate," said Hughes. "This will increase the number of scholarships we can give out over the next two to four years and we plan to give out $150,000 in scholarships this year alone."
Recipients are selected on a competitive basis, considering multiple factors. Some scholarship funds target students with specific areas of interest to the scholarship donor, such as high school attended, academic/career focus, or financial need.
"We want to increase the number of students that apply this year and multiple opportunities that are available for students depending on what school they go to, field of interest and financial need."
The scholarship period is open through March 2. To apply, visit StanislausCF.org/receive/scholarships.