The Clark Scholarship: A Gift to Central New York

CFES works with 13 school districts in and around Cooperstown, New York, that are supported by the Clark Foundation. Students in those schools are eligible for the Clark Scholarship, which is awarded to a total of about 800 young people annually. Clark scholarships support college-related expenses incurred by students in the Leatherstocking region. Awards range from $5,000 to $8,000 and are given to undergrads for all types of postsecondary study and to graduate students who pursue degrees in health care and other critical areas.

Gary Kuch, a former teacher, principal, and superintendent in the Leatherstocking region, heads the Clark Scholarship Program. "It's an incentive for kids to attend and to stay in college," Kuch says of the phenomenal impact the scholarship program has had on this rural region in central New York. Indeed, 98% of recipients of the Clark Scholarship complete their college degrees on time! That's particularly impressive, when you recall from Chapter 8, that more than half of all college students drop out or fail out.

A Rural Community Invests in Its College Students

A dozen years ago, CFES Program Director Carol Cathey shared with educators from Ticonderoga, New York, the story of a program created in her Florida hometown, the Port St. Joe Scholarship Program, which has helped pay for college for several hundred youth over the past two decades.

Cathey's story inspired the creation of the Ticonderoga Alumni Association, which, since its inception in 2006, has made almost a quarter of a million dollars available to 574 students who were applying to college, technical school, or an approved apprentice program. The amount of the individual award is based upon points earned for grades, attendance, good behavior, extracurricular activities, community service, and family involvement in the school. The average award, entirely donated by Ticonderoga alumni, was $770 for members of the Class of 2019.

College Savings and Investment Strategies for Students and Families: Advice from Someone Who’s Been There

Yanely Espinal learned some difficult financial lessons growing up with nine siblings and as a first-generation college student at Brown University. Now the Director of Educational Outreach at Next Gen Personal Finance, Espinal offers suggestions on how to avoid making the same mistakes she did, along with some valuable financial advice.

"When I was applying to college and I was offered money, I had no idea that some of that money might not be free," says Espinal. "Apply for scholarships and grants as early as possible, and when you do get a financial aid letter from a college, look at it with a microscope. Make sure you understand exactly what it says and how much you are responsible for paying."

Once in college, Espinal urges students to be frugal and to avoid accumulating credit card debt and other forms of debt with high interest rates. After graduation, students should create a debt payback plan, which will help build credit and allow for some initial investments at their first job, such as a 401 (k) plan.

"A debt repayment plan is number one," says Espinal. "Pull up a debt repayment calculator and plug in some numbers, and it will tell you exactly how long repayment will take. Secondly, you should build up your savings account so you have a cushion in case something unexpected happens. Once you have those two in place, then you can invest. If your first job offers a 401 (k) or 403(b), take advantage of it."

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