While college is an exciting time for many students, others have the stressful reality of financing their education to support their dreams. Two grants from the Auen Foundation aim to alleviate that burden for some local college students caught in what is termed a “gap.” This is where many students fall when they don’t qualify for state and federal need-based aid, but have difficulty paying for college expenses, particularly when unforeseen circumstances arise.
“Many students are above the income threshold, but are still struggling to pay for school and the cost of living,” said Peter Sturgeon, with the College of the Desert (COD) Foundation, which received a $50,000 grant to assist students in its rigorous nursing program. “This is especially difficult for those people supporting more than just themselves. Many of our nursing students are single parents and veterans, looking to improve their lives and the financial security of their families.”
“These funds will help students who are probably already making sacrifices and facing challenges to attend university,” said Dr. Sharon Brown-Welty, Dean of California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) Palm Desert Campus, which received a $50,000 grant earmarked for emergency assistance for qualifying students.
As students apply for these emergency grants, CSUSB Palm Desert Campus administrators plan to collect additional data to determine consistent obstacles that impede on college students’ successes. It is already known that the college attainment rate in the Coachella Valley is less than 30 percent for all adults, and only 12 percent for Hispanic adults, which make up 40 percent of the community. Understanding how to attract and support additional students is a component of how the Auen Foundation gift will further assist CSUSB Palm Desert Campus.
“The Auen Foundation believes in the importance of higher education in our community, and we continually look for ways to partner with our local colleges and universities,” said Catharine Reed, Senior Program Officer of the Auen Foundation. “A college education is becoming increasingly critical for job security, and we want to support those students in our area who are making a commitment to achieve that goal.”
Each institution has its own application process to qualify students for grants between $1,500-$2,500 per calendar year to support immediate and short-term challenges that hinder individual success. Funding is allocated on a case-by-case basis, but possible uses may include textbook and other course supplies, short-term transportation needs, support for household basics in extraordinary circumstances, or temporary childcare resources.
“An incredible 60 percent of our students qualify for maximum federal and state financial aid, and 36 percent of our students live at or below the poverty line. For students scraping to assure they are in college, the expenses of books and even food and transportation can be additional barriers we are working to overcome by establishing this program through the generous support of the Auen Foundation,” said Dr. Brown-Welty.
Support of higher education, particularly in fields related to medicine and services aimed at meeting the needs of mature adults and their families, aligns with the Auen Foundation’s mission to enhance the quality of life for the aging population.
For more information about these emergency scholarships contact the independent institutions. CSUSB Palm Desert Campus is located at 37500 Cook Street, Palm Desert; visit www.pdc.csusb.edu or call (760) 341‑2883. For College of the Desert, located at 43–500 Monterey Ave, Palm Desert, visit: www.collegeofthedesert.edu or call (760) 346‑8041. D