“Our school district has an administration that listens and faculty that inspires. Our town has an organization whose sole mission is help you pay for college. The Mamaroneck-Larchmont Student Aid Fund understands how important and impressive obtaining higher education is,” said M'Ral Broodie-Stewart, a Mamaroneck High School (MHS) graduate and Student Aid scholarship recipient.
The heartfelt speech that Broodie-Stewart, now a student at Georgetown Law student, delivered highlighted not only the importance of attending college, but having the means to attend, a major stumbling block for many high school graduates.
Although it may seem almost unthinkable that any student would be unable to attend college due to financial need in an area as wealthy as Mamaroneck, this year a greater number of applicants to the Mamaroneck-Larchmont Student Aid Fund are in financially challenging situations according to First Vice-President Alice Tenney. A percentage of the students this year come from households with family incomes of $35,000 and below.
Many of the kids helped by the fund are the first in their families to attend college.
“They’re overcoming the odds,” said President Susan Bell.
Eligible MHS students—who must initially fill out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms to pre-qualify for any kind of financial aid—work with Financial Aid Advisor Marcia Burkett to determine what combination of scholarships and grants will best meet their needs. Qualifying students will then interview with a member of the Student Aid Fund.
“It’s rare that we’re the only source of aid,” said Tenney, referring to the tendency for students to receive assistance from multiple sources.
Past students have said, however, that receiving a scholarship from the Student Aid Fund made the difference between having to juggle a job on top of attending school full-time and being able to focus completely on their schoolwork without the added stress of work obligations.
“It makes a difference in being able to pay for textbooks and other expenses,” said Tugend, referring to miscellaneous book and college fees that are sometimes exempted from traditional scholarships and grants.
The 74-year old Student Aid Fund relies on donations from the community, sending out an appeal letter in the fall to everyone who has children in the Mamaroneck public school system as well as past donors. The Student Aid Fund is made up of a 16-member volunteer board from the Larchmont-Mamaroneck community and members serve for two, 2-year terms.
In 2010, the Student Fund awarded college scholarships to 45 graduating MHS seniors ranging from $500 to $3,500.
The Student Fund raised a total of $222,000 last year, and hopes to continue to gain support from the community, particularly since college costs are on the rise.
To donate to the Mamaroneck-Larchmont Student Aid Fund visit the website here or e-mail Monica Casey at MECaseyNY@gmail.com