Discovering the Scholarship Difference

Foundation Scholarships - student with professor at microscopeSecuring Foundation aid creates college success—and the July 15 deadline is fast approaching

Nikki Kraus is a determined student with her sights set on law school—someone who is shaping her own success. But Nikki, graduating this month from COCC with an Associate of Arts Transfer degree and moving on to Willamette University, credits her Foundation scholarship with making the vital difference.

"It has allowed me to focus on school and work less on the weekends in my photography business," she says, sharing that the scholarship aid has helped with things like mortgage payments and childcare. "It has single-handedly been the reason why I can maintain a high GPA, while taking very full and challenging credit terms."

When Nikki made the decision to go online and fill out the application, she was struck by how smooth the process went. "It takes a very small amount of time, and the information isn't hard to compile," she says. The application process includes some basic responses from the student, an academic and financial-needs overview, along with goals and personal accomplishments.

To Zak Boone, the Foundation's executive director, Nikki's kind of success is strong affirmation of the scholarship program. He has witnessed positive scholarship outcomes like this firsthand—with students boosting their GPAs, carrying more credits—but he's always striving to reach more students, to highlight the affect that scholarships can have.

"We've made it easier than ever," he says of the online application. "The process is open to almost all students, and it's all very straightforward." Students who are benefiting from Oregon Promise grants, he adds, should know that they are also eligible to receive Foundation scholarships.

The Foundation awards close to $1.5 million in scholarships each year. That can amount to $3,600 per student, annually, renewable for two additional years. Last year, out of 420 qualified, first-time applicants, 240 applicants—57 percent—received scholarships; plus, 125 students received renewal scholarships. It is a competitive process, but a small investment of time can translate to huge reward.

In the larger picture at COCC, approximately 55 percent of certificate- and degree-seeking students receive some form of financial aid in the way of scholarships, grants or loans. And nearly 600 COCC students will receive Oregon Promise dollars for 2017-18. The Foundation, for its part, plays an intrinsic role at the college when it comes to connecting students with available resources—and making achievement the priority.

Truman Merrifield, soon to graduate with degrees in Forest Resources Technology and Wildland/Fuels Management, sums up the reach of his Foundation scholarship: "I have assistance with my tuition, living costs, transportation and books…lives are changed and the workforce gains educated and experienced workers."

The scholarship deadline for the 2017-18 academic year is coming up: July 15. "My advice to a person who is unsure of this process," adds Nikki, "would be to just push through that concern and keep going. To just do it! I cannot imagine not having this in my life this year at COCC."

Learn more about Foundation scholarships here or call 541-383-7225.

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