Scholarship Sharing Helps Students Avoid College Debt
Planning for college is hard enough—choosing a school that suits your career goals and being accepted—but what about actually paying for it?
Now that’s a little daunting.
Lorraine SantaLucia thought the same thing in 2010 when she graduated from Landstown High School in Virginia Beach. She began researching how she could attend Hollins University, a private women’s college in Roanoke, through scholarships, grants, military funding and work-study programs that were often overlooked by the public. She found them—enough of them to pay a nearly $40,000 tuition bill. She transferred to VCU her sophomore year and also paid for her full tuition bill in outside aid.
Her savvy researching skills soon became noticed. Parents in the community began contacting her, asking her to help their child do the same thing. She started a Facebook group to communicate with students—which she accidentally left open to the public. After the group gained more than 300 followers in under a week, SantaLucia decided to start her own nonprofit organization that thrives today: Scholarship Sharing, a free, student-run group dedicated to helping students find resources to pay for college.
SantaLucia, who is president of the organization, says she wants to help students, particularly young adults, realize that they don’t need perfect grades or lots of money to attend the school of their dreams. “This is personal for me because loan debt isn’t only a problem for those who I was working with; it is also something that could have also affected me as a student. I work to inform students about opportunities to avoid debt because of how hard it was for me to find aid when I first got started.”
Scholarship Sharing is hosting their second annual Scholarship Fair at VCU Student Commons Oct. 11–12 to connect students to college funding opportunities. The event will be open to high school, college, and community college students, as well as parents and teachers. Scholarship opportunities from more than 50 foundations will be present, and students can use the funds available to attend the university or community college of their choice.
“We want to create awareness about outside aid to students, to increase networking and interviewing skills and start the conversation about college financial planning,” SantaLucia explains.
She notes that it’s important to know that it’s never too early to start planning, and never too late to go to college. “People assume the only time you can earn scholarships is when you’re in high school. This is not the case. Scholarships are available, in fact, when you are as young as six years old, or a senior citizen. We’ll have info on those types of programs at the event.”
Those who attend the upcoming Scholarship Fair will not only learn valuable advice straight from the experts, but they will have the shot at earning one of several $500 scholarships to use at the school of their choice as scholarships will be awarded at random throughout the event for ticketholders.
Last year, the event brought in more than 1,000 students. This year, they expect 5,000.
Get involved with Scholarship Sharing:
Scholarship Sharing on Twitter: @ScholarshipCrew
Join the free email list-serve and get more information on the groups’ events on their website