On May 23, about 250 supporters of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara gathered at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum for its Annual Dinner. Following the Awards Ceremony in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Gardens, the dinner celebrated the roughly $8.3 million in scholarships awarded this year to about 2,700 students throughout the county.
The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara County is the largest community-based provider of college scholarships in the entire country, having cumulatively awarded in excess of $108 million to more than 47,000 county students since its founding in 1962.
During the reception in the lower Adobe Courtyard, donors, staff, boardmembers, volunteers, and other guests mingled. Guests were then seated in the main courtyard for an al fresco dinner. Board Chair Don Logan welcomed them and illustrated the importance of the foundation’s work by citing a recent Georgetown University study, which showed that college graduates earn on average $1 million more over their lifetimes than non-college graduates.
Interim President and CEO Barbara Robertson announced that the foundation recently amended its mission statement to read, in relevant part, that the foundation “inspires, encourages, and supports Santa Barbara County students to and through college, graduate, and vocational school.” Robertson explained that this change in orientation means that the foundation is now committed to helping students both attend college and complete college.
While the foundation has long provided support to students throughout their undergraduate and graduate studies, previously there has not been an emphasis in the foundation’s advocacy work on having recipients complete their studies. The operational details of the mission shift will be determined over time.
The program concluded with three of this year’s scholarship recipients sharing moving stories about their life experiences.
While the $8.3 million awarded is extremely impressive, more funds are always needed. This year, the foundation’s average award for four-year undergraduate students was $3,124. UCSB estimates the average cost of attendance for 2018-19 at nearly $37,000 and CSU Channel Islands estimates the total cost at nearly $29,000 (both figures include room and board). Moreover, this year the foundation turned away more than 600 qualified applicants for lack of funds.
Of the $8.3 million total, about $800,000 went to 213 students pursuing graduate studies and about $700,000 went to 88 students attending medical school. The remainder went to students attending undergraduate and vocational schools. The majority of scholarships awarded are based on financial need, but some prioritize other criteria. The foundation does not charge donors any administrative fee.
The foundation also provides financial aid advice and assists with other scholarship applications and federal and state financial aid forms. This year, the foundation estimates that it helped students secure an additional $44 million in federal, state, and institutional aid.
For more information about the Scholarship Foundation, go to sbscholarship.org.
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By Gail Arnold