Scholarships are in abundance these days as high school students prepare to enter college. However, obtaining them may be a hurdle yet to jump.
Armstrong County Community Foundation is a great place for local students to start in the search for grant money, but Executive Director Jodi Beers said students and parents must read the qualification guidelines carefully.
“There is an online eligibility quiz and then the scholarships, for which they are eligible, pop up for them to consider,” she said.
One such scholarship that comes with several important qualifications is the Mabel R. Slagle Nurses Training Scholarship Fund. Approximately $35,000 is available for high school seniors or adults that are majoring in Nursing through an accredited college or university. They also can be entering their first year of nursing program in a recognized training school operated by a hospital. However, this does not include Lenape School of Practical Nursing since it is not a college, university, or hospital training school.
Furthermore, the Fund guidelines require that the recipient graduate from Apollo-Ridge, Armstrong High School, Kiski High School, or Leechburg High School. Students attending Lenape Tech full time actually graduate from Lenape and not their sending school, so those students would not qualify.
Lenape Tech Director Wes Kuhta said that students from Leechburg only participate in the half-day program; therefore they receive their diploma from Leechburg and would qualify. However, a student from Armstrong High School attending Lenape full time would not qualify because that diploma would be issued by Lenape, not Armstrong, as required by the scholarship.
Kuhta said this should not be a deterrent to parents sending their students to Lenape since there are many other scholarship programs available to students who graduate a vocational-technical school.
Lenape Guidance Counselor Dan Jones agreed.
“SkillsUSA have articulation agreement with various colleges in PA,” Jones explained. “That means that colleges will grant our students various credits for their work at Lenape – up to 12 credits toward their college degree.”
Beers said the Slagle scholarship was reviewed by three attorneys so that the Community Foundation strictly follows the guidelines of the scholarship.
“When we have scholarships like this, we have to follow what the Order of the Court says,” Beers stated. “This is the first year that we received this scholarship and it is through a Trust. The owner and wife are deceased. We must be careful to follow the wishes of the donor with every detail.”
Beers said students should begin their search by completing an application online.
“Our scholarships are merit scholarships – meaning the most qualified students receive it. Each scholarship has criteria. It may be split into multiple awards if there are multiple students who qualify. We have an outside committee that reviews all the scholarships. They judge each applicant based on the criteria established by the scholarship. We make sure whoever is selected is truly eligible.”
The Klingensmith Scholarship Fund was originally established for Ford City High School students who were going to college to become a pharmacist. Once Ford City High School no longer existed, the Cippel family last year agreed to change the requirements. Now the scholarships are available to any student in the Armstrong School District or Lenape Tech, or an adult that is a resident of the ASD who is enrolled to become a pharmacist.
“People do not understand how scholarships work,” Beers said. “It is all about the intent of the donor. We would love to give to everyone who applies, but there are different criteria that must be met.”
Both Jones and Beers said a discussion with the guidance counselor at the student’s school would be the best place to start and get advice for both parent and student.