Sarah Foster

High school seniors in Oxford pursuing academic scholarships won’t have to look very far this year to pick up an application.

Several scholarships are offered in Butler County each year, with the Hamilton Community Foundation being one of the largest providers for scholarships to seniors in the county, according to the foundation.

The Hamilton Community Foundation’s Scholarship Program is made up of more than 175 different scholarship funds established by individuals, firms or organizations within the community who want to help students in obtaining a college education and/or technical training. Many are memorial scholarships, explained Katie Braswell, vice president of programs for the Hamilton Community Foundation.

Students from 11 area high schools can receive these scholarships-last year, six seniors from Talawanda High received scholarships, according to Braswell.

In 2006, scholarships for graduating seniors totaled more than $300,000, according to the Hamilton Foundation’s Web site.

Braswell said that scholarships from the Hamilton Community Foundation have been awarded to high school seniors since the 1950s.

Scholarships for high school seniors are available to those who will be attending college full time in the fall following their high school graduation. The scholarship can be used toward tuition and fees, books, supplies and on-campus housing.

Braswell said college students look for scholarships that are renewable, but most are only granted once.

“Students receive a lot of scholarships their freshman year of college, but for many, any financial assistance beyond that is few and far between,” Braswell said.

In addition to high school scholarships, the foundation offers scholarships to non-traditional students. A non-traditional student is defined as someone at least 25 years of age returning to pursue a post secondary degree at least part time.

Each applicant can apply for as many scholarships as he or she wants.

“The students who have the most initiative inevitably receive the scholarships,” Braswell said. “It also helps when the student’s parents are actively involved in helping them find scholarship information.”

Local and national scholarships can be found on www.fastweb.com. This is a Web site that matches a student’s background and achievements to scholarships for which he or she is eligible to apply. The database contains a list of local, national and college-specific scholarships and a quick search allows students to compare.

The application deadline for seniors to apply to Hamilton Community Foundation scholarships this year is Feb. 22.

Braswell said that scholarship recipients will be notified in early May, and will be invited to an awards banquet, where they get to meet the individuals or groups for which their scholarship was named.

All scholarship applications can be found online at the foundation’s Web site, www.hamiltonfoundation.org.

This is the first year that the applications are available for download online, said Braswell.

Miami University’s Office of Financial Aid offers more than 1,000 different scholarships, explained Chuck Knepfle, Miami’s director of student financial assistance.

The office awards scholarships to a variety of students including incoming first-years and continuing Miami students at all three campuses, he said.

According to Knepfle, scholarship monies awarded to first-years this year surpassed that of last year’s class, even though there was no change in tuition price for in-state students.

“We awarded about a million more dollars to this incoming class than the year before,” Knepfle said. “This was significant in the fact when you consider the tuition didn’t go up for in-state students this year.”

He also said that in a given year, 30 to 40 percent of incoming first-year students receive some type of scholarship from Miami.

Knepfle said that one of the biggest scholarship programs is the Miami Access Initiative, which provides tuition to students from low-income families with a total household income of $35,000 or less. This program is new for the 2007-08 academic year.

He also added that this is the second year for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant Match, a renewable scholarship in which Miami matches need-based grants given by the state of up to $2,500.

Knepfle said that this is a way to encourage more in-state students to stay in Ohio for college.

In addition, Miami’s academic departments also offer scholarships annually, according to the Financial Aid Office Web site.

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