Saturday, October 9, 2010

Supporting Science Through Tuition Fundraising

What to do with a brilliant 18-year-old astrophysicist-in-training with no funds to support her higher education?

One of my husband's favorite radio shows is Clark Howard. He's great for money saving ideas, finding out about scams, and personal money management advice. In a frequent piece of advice Clark gives, he tells us that there are a lot of ways to get money for college. While he may be right in general, I'm not finding that to be the case in this particular instance.

Imagine the scene:
Beautiful red hair, bright personality, goofy sense of humor, well liked by friends, family and teachers.
Built her own telescope when she was 10 years old (with a little help from Dad.)
Uses her telescope at community star parties to show the planets, stars, galaxies, and other cool stuff to 40-100 people per party.
Learned calculus and basic celestial mechanics (plotting the orbit of a comet) before she got her driver's license.
High school valedictorian.
Has been accepted to a prestigious private college to pursue an astrophysics degree.

Her quest: To raise enough funding to complete her bachelor's degree.

She goes out to the internet to search for scholarships. Two hours later she emerges from her room in tears with no leads and ready to give up on her dream.

You see, her family doesn't qualify for Federal Financial Aid because they work for a living.
Father is a teacher, mother is a technologist. Together, they make just enough money to support the family, too much money to qualify for "needs-based" federal financial aid, but not nearly enough money to pay the estimated $60,000 needed for tuition.

What to do? Some ideas in my next post.


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