Time To Scramble For College Cash

January 08, 1992|By Sandra Crockett

Doreen Pettigrew, 17, is a senior at Randallstown High School who is in the midst of her scholarship and financial aid search. "I am very concerned," Doreen said. "I need money."

Doreen is applying to four schools: Virginia Union University, Virginia State College, Hampton University and Morgan State University.

Her situation is a typical one for the thousands of high school students searching for enough money to get them into college.

"I just went to a workshop last week on how to fill out forms for loans, grants," she said.

Doreen, who works 16 hours a week at a MacDonald's, wants to major in education and eventually become a superintendent of a school district.

She is the daughter of an account manager at Xerox and a public school substitute teacher and has already asked her parents to see whether their employers provide any scholarship money.

Doreen is also applying to a sorority that gives out scholarship money and is looking for any other organization that could be of help.

"I didn't know it was so much work," Doreen said. "It's like torture."

In these recessionary times, families everywhere are gathering around the dining room table talking about money. How much is there? Where's it going? How far can it be stretched?

With students in college, the question of money becomes even more pertinent.

Unless planning begins years before a child graduates from high school, financing a college education can throw a family budget into a tizzy.

The spring semester at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County will cost Maryland residents about $1,400 for tuition and fees.

Millions of dollars are available

At Morgan State University, residents will pay nearly $1,200 in tuition and fees for the spring semester. At Johns Hopkins, obtaining an undergraduate degree costs roughly $16,000 a school year.

At Towson State University, the price tag for the school year is about $2,500 for in-state residents.

No one is predicting the cost for a college education will go down.

That's the bad news.

Now for the good news. Scholarship money is available for the diligent student who is willing to apply for it. "There are literally thousands and thousands of dollars that go unused," said Laurence Orendorff, chairman of the guidance department at Randallstown High School.

There are plenty of scholarships out there, agreed Marilyn Leuthold, the financial aid director for Towson State University. However, she believes the amount of grant money available is not keeping pace with the number of students who could use the help.

Applying for the money means filling out long, cumbersome forms, which includes supplying tax information and sometimes writing essays.

"It's a complicated process," Ms. Leuthold said. "But students should apply and let the financial aid office say yes or no."

When it comes to money for college, some people use the term "financial aid" to mean anything from loans to government scholarships or money from private organizations, she said.

"Financial aid is a term used generically to cover a lot of things," Ms. Leuthold said.

High school seniors should already be searching out financial aid, scholarship and loan information. The students and their parents should now be making appointments with their high school guidance counselors, who receive up-to-date information.

The students should also contact the financial aid office at the schools to which they are applying. Also, public libraries and school libraries have a wealth of information on scholarships available.

"A student can get money from an organization that could take them all the way through college," Ms. Leuthold said.

Students can look to organizations that give money tied to a specific ethnic or religious group. Some charitable or social clubs also raise money for scholarship funds.

Students should also check with their parents' employers, who may provide scholarships, Ms. Leuthold said.

Or scholarship money can be tied to what a student wants to do. For instance, professional organizations such as those for accountants and journalists offer scholarships for students majoring in those fields.

There is federal and state money and money from the school that students can apply for, she said.

Need financial help for the fall 1992 college semester? The applications should start to go in the mail this month. "You want to apply as early as possible," Ms. Leuthold said.

Brandi Denmark, 17, a Randallstown senior, is applying to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University and Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa.

Ms. Denmark's father died in August. Her mother works as a switchboard operator. "I am extremely concerned," she said about financing her way through college.

She is president of her senior class and wants to be a genetic engineer. She also works at MacDonald's, putting in 20 to 25 hours a week.

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