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Scholarships Increase As Does Cost of Education

August 1, 2008

By Lee Gray, Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.

Aug. 1–As higher education costs rise, it’s lucky that the scholarship dollars students receive are also increasing.

Students in South Carolina’s Class of 2008 received in excess of $767 million in scholarships, bringing the state’s five-year scholarship total to $3.1 billion. This year’s total is up $83 million over last year.

Most local school districts also saw a rise in student scholarship funds received.

Seniors in Spartanburg districts 1-7 received a combined $50.6 million to begin their college careers. The 2007-08 total is about $5.3 million more than students received last year and nearly double what was received five years ago.

Students in Spartanburg District 6, the largest of the county’s districts, received the most scholarship funds with about $15 million. District 2 saw the largest year-to-year increase with $10.4 million this year compared to $7.2 million last year.

District 7 seniors earned $8.9 million, followed by District 1 with $6.5 million. Students in District 4 received $3.4 million while District 5 totaled $3.3 million and District 3 students received $2.9 million.

District 1 Superintendent Jimmy Littlefield attributed the additional $1.3 million in scholarships for seniors at Chapman and Landrum high schools to a slight increase in the number of graduates combined with a focused effort by counselors, administration, teachers and parents. The two high schools’ combined 2008 graduating class was about 277 students.

“We encourage the parents and students to begin looking for financial aid early on, not just in their senior year,” Littlefield said. “It’s just a matter of working individually with the students and, of course, having the students that meet the criteria for the scholarships.”

District 2 Superintendent Scott Mercer also pointed to a combined effort between students and district staff as a reason for high scholarship earnings.

“Our students, under the caring direction of well-trained teachers and administrators, performed exceptionally well in obtaining scholarships this year,” Mercer said. “They have set the bar high for next year’s graduates.”

Seniors in Cherokee County earned $8.8 million in scholarships this year, down $5.5 million since the 2006-07 school year. Union County seniors received about $500,000 more in scholarships this year compared to last, with a total $2.2 million.

The South Carolina Department of Education estimated that 90 percent of the scholarships received are academic while 10 percent are athletic. LIFE, HOPE and Palmetto Fellows scholarships make up about a fifth of the state’s total.

“This is no small feat,” said state Superintendent of Education Jim Rex in a media release. “In fact, it’s amazing. This year’s graduates have raised the bar for next year’s seniors, and I congratulate them and their parents, teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators. They all have worked hard, and they deserve to be applauded.”

For more complete scholarship information visit the Department of Education’s Web site at www.ed.sc.gov.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.

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