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The Appalachian region is notorious for its seclusion and poverty, both of which add up to limited educational opportunities for young people. More than one-fifth of Appalachian children live in poverty, and the number who graduate from college is far below the national average, according to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. Several organizations offer grants and scholarships to Appalachian residents in an effort to close the region's education gap and encourage recipients to return to the region when their education is complete.
Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (appalachianohio.org), a charitable organization that works to promote educational opportunities in the 32 Ohio counties in the Appalachian region, offers a number of scholarships. The Ora E. Anderson Scholarship is awarded to students committed to environmental protection and conservation, while the Ariana R. Ulloa Scholarship Fund goes to students pursuing degrees in international studies. The organization also funds several scholarships for graduate students, including the Zelma Gray Medical School Scholarship, given to students pursuing a medical degree in the hopes that they will return to practice medicine in the Appalachians.
Appalachian College Association
The Appalachian College Association (acaweb.org) offers scholarships to students attending a college in the Appalachian region, including Berea College in Kentucky, Tusculum College in Tennessee, the University of Charleston in West Virginia, and Ferrum College in Virginia. The Barbara Paul Robinson Scholarship, funded by a New York attorney who did pro bono work in the Appalachians, is given annually to a college student who plans to become an attorney and to give back to the region. The National Science Foundation funds scholarships for Appalachian college students studying the natural sciences, technology, engineering or math.
West Virginia PROMISE Program
West Virginia's PROMISE scholarships are given to high-performing students who stay in state for college. To be eligible, students must graduate from high school with a 3.0 GPA and earn an SAT score of 1020 or higher. They must maintain strong grades in college to keep the scholarships. Students who have been active in community service groups during high school are more likely to win the awards; administrators say they expect at least 20 hours of unpaid service during high school and college.
Many Appalachian residents are also eligible for federal grants for educational expenses because of their dire financial need. Pell grants, for example, are awarded by the federal government to undergraduates or vocational students from low-income families. As of 2010, Pell grant recipients were granted a maximum of $5,550 a year for tuition. Undergraduates with exceptional financial need are also eligible for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Priority is given to students who have already received a Pell grant. As of 2010, this grant provided up to $4,000 in tuition assistance per year.
- U.S. Department of Education: Federal Pell Grant Program
- Federal Student Aid: Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
- Foundation for Appalachian Ohio: Foundation Scholarship Opportunities
- Appalachian College Association: Scholarship Funding
- College Foundation of West Virginia: West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship
Jennifer Barrow has worked as a newspaper reporter since 2002, most recently at the "Houston Chronicle," where she was a business reporter. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Yale University.