Charlottesville has created a quarter-million-dollar scholarship fund for Charlottesvillians that can’t afford higher education. The program, which Council approved in August, requires matching funding from the private sector, which is being headed up by a steering committee. Jake Mooney has the story in today’s Progress.
4 thoughts on “City Creates Scholarship”
I guess I’m showing my socialist leanings here (when it comes to education, at least), but I think this is really fantastic. I have a big things-to-make-happen-in-Charlottesville list, and this was key among them. I can’t believe I had no idea that it was happening right under my nose. :)
The disparity between the lower and upper classes in the area is terrible, but it’s incredible how often that it falls along racial lines. By and large, the poor people in town are black and the rich people are white. The result is that many black kids go through high school and can’t afford college, and they go into the working world, stuck in a blue-collar job.
It is so very important that we help these kids to get into college, so that they can have the same opportunties that more well-off kids have. We’re giving them a good education — we trust our teachers to do that — but we need to give them the money to make it possible. This is a wonderful way to make that happen, and I applaud City Council for this impressive step. I look forward to hearing that the entire $500,000 has been exhausted. Let’s just hope that Council will have enough foresight to know that the benefits from this program won’t become clear for 4-10 years, and continue to fund this until that time when we can measure its impact.
Everyone says you can go to college if you want to, which isn’t true. The people who believe this often got some package of scholarships and loans put together for them, and think it works that way for everyone else.
There are more than a few students in charlottesville who can’t even afford the application fee at most colleges. Let alone paying thousands of dollars a year in tuition.
I beg to differ. I knew a number of people who had neither scholarships, nor loans, nor personal or family savings, but who still managed to go to college. They did it by working full time and by going to community colleges and regional universities that didn’t charge nearly as much as the state “flagship” universities. Sure, it took them longer than the standard four years, but they made it through eventually, and they are currently doing just fine. It can be done, if you’re willing to look at all of the available options for higher education. If, on the other hand, you narrow your thinking to include only certain, select (and expensive) institutions, then you’re right. Not everybody will be able to afford to go to those particular colleges.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for scholarship programs like these, or that Charlottesville’s new program isn’t a good thing. What I’m getting at is that it isn’t the only way for financially needy students to get to college and that you do those students a disservice when you tell them that the only way for them to succeed is through some sort of largesse. Even if the largesse does materialize, there’s something ennervating about believing that you couldn’t have made it without help. It’s better to keep an open mind about their educational future because not only does having a self-reliant plan build confidence in those who do get the scholarships, it serves as a Plan B for those who don’t, which is something to consider unless you’re prepared to pay for college for every student in the city.
Just about anyone can qualify for any number of loans and grants to pay for college tuition — especially those with low income. That’s the whole point of the financial aid system. It doesn’t mean everyone will be able to afford a Harvard education, of course, but some form of higher education will be available.
As for not being able to afford the application fee, the last time I checked it only costs $40 to apply to UVA. Any able-bodied high school senior can mow a few lawns or shovel some snow to earn that.
Personally, I think one of the biggest obstacles to a college education for many low-income people is psychological — if your parents didn’t go to college, you don’t always have the necessary support system and expectations to drive you to succeed. If it’s not expected of you, you don’t necessarily expect it of yourself. If people tell you that you can’t do it or that “it isn’t for you,” you begin to believe them.
I think one of the most important services a high school can provide is teaching “college skills” — not just the knowledge required to begin a liberal arts education, but how to apply to colleges, how to get loans and grants, teaching good study skills, etc. Sort of the “teaching a man to fish” approach to things.
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