Shrinking the gap of educational costs with donor funding

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Christopher Kerrigan

June is the time of year when parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are bursting with pride as they watch their child, grandchild, niece or nephew walk across the stage to receive a college diploma.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than 2.2 million U.S. students earned a bachelor's degree in 2017. A college education can have a tremendous impact on the quality of life, particularly when it comes to lifetime earning power.

Did you know that a person who graduates from college will earn $1 million more than a high school graduate over the course of his or her lifetime?

Educational attainment not only impacts individuals' ability to care for themselves and their families, it can benefit society by increasing tax collection and reducing social services.

Unfortunately, for some, the dream of attending college is out of reach. In South Carolina, the annual cost to attend Clemson "all in" is $25,000 a year; Furman is $64,000 a year. Those costs are prohibitive to many families. Each year, as tuitions rise, the gap widens between those who can afford to attend college and those who can't.

At Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, we're helping our donors shrink that gap. We work closely with individuals who have a passion for education - and a passion for helping deserving students - to establish scholarships.

We make it easy. We collaborate with donors to develop scholarship criteria; we promote scholarships with students, parents and the schools; we administer the application process; we prescreen applicants; we handle the financial investing of the resources; and we help build the capacity to prepare a student for the future.

One of these students is a resourceful young woman who was raised in a home with seven other siblings. Her mother struggled with drug addiction and she and her siblings were sometimes forced to rummage through restaurant dumpsters for meals.

Despite these overwhelming challenges, the student carried a 4.3 GPA and was a National Merit Scholar. In addition, she did volunteer work with children with disabilities.

She applied for - and received - a Krum Scholarship. Jim and Marge Krum had a passion for education and helping young adults succeed, not only academically, but through service to others.

Students receiving Krum Scholarships boast outstanding academic credentials, but also demonstrate an extraordinary history of ongoing service to their school and community. This commitment of giving back in unselfish ways to enrich the lives of others is what exemplifies a Krum Scholar.

While the Krums were alive, they were actively involved in managing their scholarship. Upon their passing, a volunteer board continues their generous work.

One of the most unique characteristics of the Krum Scholarship is that it can award up to $10,000 each year during the recipient's undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. There are currently 50 students receiving the Krum scholarship, all at various points in their academic careers.

That's the legacy the Krums left our community by partnering with us. How can we help your philanthropic desires come true? Let me know.

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

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