Students urged to apply for education funds

Students urged to apply for education funds

With the deadline for applications just less than a week away — Thursday— the educational director of the College Opportunity Fund, Angie Fitzgerald, is urging eligible students to apply. She often encourages students to apply for every potential source of financial assistance that is made available to them.
According to Mrs. Fitzgerald, students often think they have enough money for school and so they don’t apply for additional aid; it is not until an unexpected expense arises that they realize they should have applied for more.
Students can always apply for additional aid and then decline it if they end up not needing it, she adds. The only thing they can’t do is apply for additional aid after the deadlines have passed.
Students who are considering applying or plan to apply for the College Opportunity Fund should know that the program is offering them more than just the possibility of financial assistance for college. Not only does the program provide interest free student loans to approved seniors from Obion County Central, South Fulton and Union City high schools, but it also provides students with assistance in performing scholarship and career searches, accountability for academic performance and personal achievement goals, practice interviews and coaching to prepare for future job interviews and an opportunity to earn loan forgiveness of up to 52 percent.
The foundation members and Mrs. Fitzgerald believe the College Opportunity Fund program can help spur students to become more successful in life if, of course, they put forth the effort required on their part. Ideally, the program’s educational director prefers to partner with students to help motivate them to take ownership of their education and to instill in them a greater appreciation for it.
Mrs. Fitzgerald says, “When I speak to students about the program, I often refer to something my parents used to tell me, ‘People often appreciate more that which they had to work for, compared to that which is handed to them.’ This quote seems to tie in nicely with the reasoning behind the foundation’s decision to offer students interest-free loans verses scholarships or grants.”
The College Opportunity Fund program has been made available to students of Obion County for almost 10 years now. It was established by the foundation in 1999 and has since helped over 100 students to achieve their goals of becoming college graduates. The foundation hopes to help many more students in the years to come as well, according to Mrs. Fitzgerald.
For this reason the foundation’s directors recently made a decision to expand the College Opportunity Fund program into Weakley County. Beginning with the class of 2009, all seniors of Weakley County high schools will be officially eligible to apply. Separate funds, equal to those being made available in Obion County, will be allotted for the expansion into Weakley County.
This year’s available funds being offered in Obion County total an impressive amount of $500,000. The funds are divided in the following manner: $250,000 is available for previously approved students and $250,000 for this year’s graduating seniors from Obion County Central, South Fulton and Union City high schools. The program is two years away from reaching its maximum available funding of $1 million per year.
“It is obvious that the College Opportunity Fund, in its entirety, is a unique program for which eligible students should eagerly apply. It is probably safe to say that this program is offering students a once in a lifetime opportunity. To my knowledge there are not any banks, mortgage companies or lenders out there that offer interest free loans with potential loan forgiveness available,” says Mrs. Fitzgerald.
Students who wish to take advantage of this opportunity can obtain an application from the Obion County Public Library, high school guidance offices or the Web site at www.latimerfoundation.org.
Mrs. Fitzgerald urges interested students to apply right away to make sure they do not miss the quickly approaching deadline Thursday.
For questions or more information about the College Opportunity Fund, contact Mrs. Fitzgerald at 885-7000 at the Obion County Public Library.
Published in The Messenger 5.2.08

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