Wednesday, April 18, 2007

USA Funds Awards $100,000 In Scholarships

INDIANAPOLIS — USA Funds, the nation's leading education-loan guarantor and the designated guarantor of federal student loans in Arizona, announced the award of a $100,000 grant to help increase academic access and success for Arizona students pursuing a postsecondary education.

USA Funds awarded the grant to the Arizona College Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit organization made up of Arizona business and community leaders, elected officials, foundations, and education and community-service leaders. The foundation is committed to making college a reality for Arizona students through scholarships and mentoring programs for low-income, high-potential students attending Arizona colleges or universities. The grant will help fund the ACSF Scholars program.

"These scholarships support USA Funds' nonprofit mission to enhance postsecondary-education preparedness, access and success," said Henry L. Fernandez, USA Funds executive director of scholarships, outreach and philanthropy. "We are extremely pleased to partner with ACSF to improve the college-going rates of lower-income students in Arizona."

According to research reports, the need for financial assistance for students in Arizona is great. Arizona ranks among the five-lowest states in terms of state-funded financial assistance for students pursuing higher education. The participation rate of low-income Arizona residents in postsecondary education is less than 16 percent, and Arizona has the fifth- lowest percentage of citizens with baccalaureate degrees.

In addition to scholarship funding, ACSF provides mentoring services to students throughout the various stages of their education. ACSF works with established organizations that serve high-risk children to provide early postsecondary-education awareness and mentoring. The foundation also coordinates with organizations that provide college-preparatory training and application information for students.

At the college level, ACSF provides a network of on-campus support services to ensure scholars' success. Each ACSF Scholar is paired with an on- campus mentor, receives bimonthly coaching from ACSF staff, attends regular group trainings and is connected with on-campus resource centers. As upperclassmen, each scholar is paired with a professional mentor who provides advice and opportunities for job shadowing and internships.

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