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South Portland to provide postsecondary scholarships


A community group wants to help South Portland High School graduates to continue their education and will put up money to get the job done.

The South Portland Scholarship Committee this week launched a fundraising effort with a long-term goal of providing $4,000 to each high school graduate $2,000 for each of the first two years of postsecondary education. The first step is to raise $20,000 to get the program started.

Eventually, supporters want to provide the scholarships to students regardless of academic achievement or economic need.

A study released last month by the Sen. George J. Mitchell Scholarship Research Institute underscored the importance of student financial aid.

Nearly two-thirds of parents reported that finances will likely determine which college their child attends, and about one-third of parents said finances will likely determine whether their child attends college at all, according to the study.

The scholarship for two years of postsecondary education could have an impact regardless of where the student is headed.

About half of this year’s 225 graduates received scholarships separate from financial aid packages awarded by postsecondary institutions, said Jeanne Crocker, a member of the committee and principal of South Portland High School.

Crocker said the scholarship group wants to provide money to all graduates because it is hard to determine who needs it the most. “Any family can benefit from the $2,000 to apply to room and board, transportation,” she said.

It costs $2,400 for a full-time student to attend a school in the Maine Community College System. To attend the University of Maine, it costs resident students $15,814 a year, including tuition, fees, room and board.

Similar education funds have been set up elsewhere across the state, but this would be the biggest of its type, according to Jim Geary, vice president for finance at the Maine Community Foundation. “It’s an attainable goal over a period of time.”

A residents’ group in Deer Isle has raised funds for educational enrichment programs as part of the Island Education Foundation. Sebert Brewer, a founding member, said the group has at least $300,000 and started 14 years ago with $17,000.

“The key is to start and make certain that it is a very long-range project,” Brewer said. “You need to start small and grow into these shoes.”

Information from: Portland Press Herald,

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