Economy impacts scholarship program

Wanda English Burnett

The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program has been adjusted, according to information from Sara B. Cobb, the endowment’s vice president for education.

Ripley County has been a part of receiving full ride scholarships for students over the past several years, which has been a blessing to the families receiving the scholarships.

The competition just got tougher with only one student being named as a scholar recipient this year. According to Jane Deiwert, program director for Ripley County, the process begins with the required essay administered in area schools on November 3. Then applications are due by November 17.

Over the 13 years of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program, more than 3,300 Indiana high school students have received scholarships, and were able to attend any accredited Indiana public or private college or university for free. The students also had required fees paid and were given $800 per year for books and equipment.

Lilly Endowment has announced a grant of $15 million to Independent College of Indiana (ICI) to support another round of the scholarship program. For the 2011 class, each foundation will be eligible to nominate at least one recipient for the full-time scholarship. It is dependent on population, making Ripley County Community Foundation able to only nominate one student.

While the total of students entering colleges this year was 216, next year there will only be 142.

The cost of tuition has more than doubled since the program’s inception in 1998 when it was estimated at just under $50,000 for four years of study. For the 2011 student, the average cost is estimated at $106,000 for four years.

“While we regret that fewer scholarships will be awarded in 2011, we are pleased to continue this important program that helps promote the value of higher education in our state and highlights the vital role community foundations play in Indiana counties,” noted Cobb.

The program has had a positive effect on Ripley County students as each year recipients of the scholarship come to the Ripley County Community Foundation’s annual dinner event to tell how much it has impacted their lives. In the past Ripley County has been awarded two or more scholarships.