Donors who create scholarships know about paying it forward

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Student loan debt.

These three words strike fear in the hearts of college students and their parents. As college costs have skyrocketed, so has the amount borrowed to pay them.

Roughly 43 million Americans carry student loan debt, estimated to be about $1.51 trillion. (That does not include the estimated $119 billion in student loans from private sources not backed by the government.) The only category of debt greater than student loans is mortgage loans.

We know that education is the gateway to financial stability and success. In fact, many successful people attribute their success to opportunities their education afforded them. And that's why so many of our donors establish scholarships with the Community Foundation: They want to open doors to educational opportunities that will lead to brighter futures.

Jim and Marge Krum understood the importance of education and the role it played in their financial success. Marge Krum created the James L. Krum Memorial Scholarship with the Community Foundation in 2003 to honor her late husband. After Marge died, the fund became the Jim and Margaret Krum Foundation, with proceeds directed to support ongoing scholarships for local students. To date, the scholarship has awarded over $2 million to 100 local students.

That's an impressive figure.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about the Krum Scholarship is its generous award for each student. The Krum Scholarship is the largest local scholarship in the area - awarding up to $10,000 per year per student. Even more impressive: The scholarship can follow a student throughout his or her entire educational journey - not just during their undergraduate years, but throughout graduate and professional degrees as well.

To qualify to be a Krum Scholar (there's even a special society for students who receive a Krum Scholarship) a student must have achieved academic success in high school (a 3.2 GPA or higher) and must demonstrate strong leadership skills and a spirit to serve their community.

The Krum Scholarship isn't the only arrow in our quiver. Community Foundation offers more than 20 different scholarships with varying application requirements, whether it's academic performance, community service, area of study, or need.

If you're a college-bound student, or the parent of one, now is the time to begin the application process. You can find a list of our scholarships and instructions on how to apply at cf-lowcountry.org. Just click on the "Scholarships" tab.

And if you, like Jim and Marge Krum, believe that your education played an instrumental role in your success and you'd like to pay it forward by giving local students that same opportunity, we're here to help.

Give us a call at 843-681-9100.

Christopher Kerrigan is the CEO and president of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. cf-lowcountry.org

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