Alternative Financial Aid Local Groups Give Away Thousands of Dollars Every Year to Help College Students Foot the Bill

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Fowler Daily Herald Staff Writer

With the cost of a four-year degree these days, an extra $500 or $1,000 may seem like a drop in the bucket to students heading off to college.

But when they consider what that money could cover - say, textbooks for a semester with leftover pizza money to boot - they might think again.

And when they contemplate how many hours of cashiering or baby- sitting it might take to raise that money, it becomes even more attractive.

Literally dozens of Naperville-area organizations offer scholarships for students with an array of interests and characteristics - good grades, service to the community, high moral character, even being taller than average.

Show me the money

The Naperville Junior Women's Club, for example, offers scholarships for students living in Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204.

Lauri Riggen, co-chairwoman of the club's education committee, says both male and female students are welcome to apply for five $1,000 scholarships awarded based on financial need, academic merit and involvement in school and community.

The group also offers one $1,000 scholarship for a Naperville woman returning to post-secondary education.

"We're just trying to help students in the community defray some of the costs of a college education," Riggen said. "We like to think of Naperville as an affluent community, but there are definitely students in this area with need."

The Rotary Club of Naperville/Sunrise plans to award between five and 15 $1,000 scholarships this year to students who demonstrate a commitment to the community.

"The main element is that they are involved," committee leader John Schmidt said. "We look for students who are strong academically, but we're also looking for students who are involved."

He says many students apply because they want to take part in financing their education.

"There's a lot of kids out there whose parents can't pay for it ... and there's a lot of kids who feel they want to be vested in their education," he said.

The Rotary Club of Naperville, a separate organization, offers two $4,000 scholarships for residents demonstrating exceptional service to their schools and communities. While this year's application deadline already has passed, scholarship chairman John Sims says applications will be available again next January.

For students living in Lisle, the Lisle Area Chamber of Commerce awards at least six $500 scholarships to high school seniors. Students submit an essay, application and recommendation letter, and a committee selects the recipients by evaluating both their performance at school and their involvement in the community.

"We want to give something back to the community," said scholarship committee Chairman Edward Kruse. "One of the best ways to do that is to contribute to the youth."

Lisle's Rotary Club also offers a scholarship program that gives out three awards of $1,000 to graduating seniors.

Students headed for state schools also can compete for scholarships through the General Assembly Scholarship program.

For students in state Rep. Joe Dunn's 96th District, four scholarships are available for the University of Illinois and four more for other state schools.

The awards cover full tuition for one year, and applications are available at schools or through the Naperville Republican's office.

Legislative aide Sherry Weinstein says students are chosen on the basis of outstanding achievement and community involvement.

"The kids are the cream of the crop," she said. "You meet these kids and you're amazed at what they do ... I don't know how they sleep."

And there's even something for tall kids. Tall Clubs International, whose female members have to be at least 5 feet 10 inches and male members 6 feet 2 inches, awards a $1,000 scholarship to one outstanding high school student who meets the height requirement. …