Scholarships smooth road for student success

A college education can help open doors, but the stress of paying for it can seem like a dead end.

Before a student considers private or federal academic loans, college financial counselors encourage student to apply for scholarships, even if they have already begun their studies. Scholarships, according to financial aid counselors, do not have to be repaid and some can be used to cover many different school-related expenses.

“Scholarships are what we call ‘free money,’” said Rena Smith-Kiawu, director of financial aid at Queens College. “You never want to fund your education with loans unless you absolutely have to, because you have to pay loans back and with interest.”

Students have access to several different types of grants, according to Smith-Kiawu. The federal government offers the Pell Grants and New York State has the Tuition Assistant Program (TAP) grants.

Also, almost all colleges and universities have financial aid and scholarship offices or links on their websites that have a wealth of information about free money. Kiawu-Smith recommends the local libraries too.

“I recommend to any student to apply to any scholarship fund that you could qualify for,” said Smith-Kiawu, who added however that in total, scholarships can not exceed the cost of attendance. “Scholarships can only cover tuition fees, books and supplies, room and board, and transportation.”

Recently two students, Randy Martinez from Richmond Hill and Cherae Hendy of Queens Village, received internships and $2,000 scholarships through Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation and the New York Urban League.

Martinez attends Nyack College as a Business Administration major with a concentration in Management. He applied for the internship and scholarship combination but didn’t think he’d receive it.

“I was so excited and thrilled to be chosen,” said Martinez, who hopes to one day own his own retail company of brand name clothing and operate as the company’s chief executive officer. “I am grateful to Enterprise and the New York Urban League for their belief in me. School is expensive and every little bit helps!”

Hendy attends Ithaca College as an International Business major with a minor in Legal Studies and though unsure of her career choice after graduation, she hopes to work for a couple years and then return to school to obtain her Masters in Business Administration and Juris Doctor degrees.

“As an intern, I learned so much about the rental car industry and overall business skills such as management training, multi-tasking and customer service,” says Ms. Hendy.

The Enterprise internship/scholarship combination, according to Carole Lakin, group multicultural relations manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car New York, “provides not only monetary help, but also the chance to use their education and apply it to real world business situations through our hands-on internship program.”

A search in a library or online can help students find all sorts of scholarships. Websites like www.fastweb.com lists scholarships and internships, including internships that pay – an added bonus on top of the job skills gained.

“If its five, six, or ten scholarships that you think you can get, apply, let the company or organization deny you. Don’t shy way because you never know,” said Kiawu-Smith.


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