College funding panel helps scholarship seekers

Janeal Downs
Staff Writer

The Scholarship Sharing club on Friday hosted a college funding panel in the Student Commons where nine panelists informed students about financial opportunities available at VCU.

President of Scholarship Sharing, senior and public relations major Lorraine SantaLucia guided the discussion by asking the panelists questions she received through Twitter from students.

“We help students get connected by sitting down with them and finding out about who they are, what their career goals are, and financial situations that they have with their families,” SantaLucia said. “We connect them to scholarships that are locally available as well as scholarships that are nationally available.”

The panel offered outside sources for students within VCU and even for those who had yet to graduate high school. College students, high school students, and family members attended.

Students who were unable to attend the discussion were able to watch it live through a Google Hangout account, SantaLucia said. Including Scholarship Sharing, many of the panelists spoke about what scholarships their individual companies offered.

Scholarship Sharing offers its own $500 scholarship, which has a deadline of March 30. They have received four applications since they began accepting applications in January.

“A lot of times the reason why scholarships never get claimed isn’t because they don’t want to be claimed, it’s because the scholarship company is usually smaller and they don’t have funding to advertise about those programs to anywhere but the public network,” SantaLucia said.

Many panelists gave tips on how to write scholarship application essays, and where to search for the money.

“I’m a big fan of local scholarships … I just think it’s hard to find them,” said College Funding Group director Jonathan West. “When you’re there in a group of five or 10 or 15, the odds of winning a scholarship are much greater than national scholarships which you hear so much about and get so much publicity.

Other panelists included representatives from the PRSA Foundation, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College scholarship program, Virginia Credit Union, Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, Radford University, the VCU Financial Aid Office and Teens Without 2.

Sophomore nursing major Megan Hulcher came to the event in search of information for scholarships based on merit.

“I would have liked to see more VCU representation, maybe (other) schools would have come in, like the School of Nursing,” Hulcher said.

Though she said the event went well, Hulcher said the panel seemed more geared toward high school students rather than college students.

For students searching for scholarships, Terrence Banks, student loan counselor of Clearpoint Credit Counseling, advised students to “start early, start fast.”

“I’m actually happy to hear so much stuff about scholarships,” Banks said.

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