For many middle-class families, affording a college education is getting harder as grant and scholarship dollars shrink with the economy.
That’s why Northern Kentucky University junior Holly Fechtig, 23, started Middle Class Scholarships, a nonprofit organization that awards scholarships to students in middle class families. The organization’s aim is to help fill the financial gap for those whose families aren’t wealthy enough to fund their child’s education independently, but make a little too much to earn need-based grants or scholarships.
Fechtig, of Florence, started the organization early this year, and raised $1,350 during a silent auction at Courtyard Cincinnati Airport hotel in June. By August, the money was awarded to six college students. The scholarship amounts ranged from $50 to $500.
“I think it really gives people a sense of hope instead of being overlooked,” she says.
Fechtig funds her own education through student loans and out of pocket, she says. In addition to working on a degree in organizational leadership and human resources, she also works full-time in human resources at a company in Northern Kentucky.
“I’ve encountered many hardships, such as tuition reimbursement, at previous jobs that seemed to always fall through, and [I’ve been] denied federal grants due to [high] income levels in the eyes of the government,” she says.
With this startup, Fechtig continues to look for opportunities to raise money and for places to sponsor fundraising events, including a possible benefit concert. Her goal is to award a growing number of scholarships during the fall and spring, as students are heading to campus.
“This way the money can be used directly toward tuition, instead of them having to come up with the money upfront and then being reimbursed after the school year has started,” she says.
Scholarships are open to any student attending a Kentucky college or university, or those attending colleges in Indiana or Ohio who have an in-state tuition reciprocity agreement. Those who apply must submit an essay answering several questions related to their middle class family status and educational goals.
Questions last fall asked, “Why do you consider yourself a part of a middle class family?” “What hardships have you encountered while applying for financial aid” and “What degree are you pursuing, and what are your ambitions after graduation?”
Because there is no concrete definition of middle class, Fechtig says, “It is up to each individual to express to me why they consider themselves a part of a middle class family.”
She’s developing questions for the next round of scholarships.
Find out more about applying for a scholarship or contributing to the scholarship fund at the Web site.
Photo: Courtesy of Middle Class Scholarships