Scholarship program allows income qualified students to get cash back while attending TSJC

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(TRINIDAD, COLORADO) Trinidad State Junior College has unveiled its First Choice Scholarship program which allows income qualified students to go to college full time and actually get cash back at the end of the semester.

By stacking a variety of financial aid and incentive programs together a top student from a Colorado high school can earn more than $2,300 in a semester.  Even a New Mexico resident may be eligible for hundreds of dollars cash back at the end of the semester. Amounts decrease depending on high school grade point average, but even an income qualified C+ Colorado student can get more than $1,700 back after a semester attending Trinidad State.

These figures are based on a student fully eligible for Pell and Colorado Student Grant programs, who attended a prospective student fair at either the Trinidad or San Luis Valley Campus.  Students with better than a 3.0 grade point average also would get an Automatic Merit Scholarship based on their academic achievement in high school.  In addition, students may also be eligible for other scholarships beyond First Choice.

“It’s First Choice in that we want to be a student’s first choice in going to college.  But we also wanted to say to students, ‘You’re our first choice also,’” said Dr. Charles Bohlen, interim president.  “Incomes are fairly low in the communities we serve, so a large proportion of our students are eligible for Pell.  Pell is federal financial aid.”

“We’ve not built into this book costs and tool costs and so on.  But there’s sufficient dollars to buy your books, buy your tool kits if you’re in a program like that, and still have some money left over,” said Bohlen.  “Maybe you’ve been out of high school 10 years, 15 years; maybe you’re a single mom, your kids are in school now and it’s your time to go to school.  If you haven’t gone to college and you did well in high school, you’re eligible.”

“We think this will significantly impact the college, by attracting the better students to the college, but the real benefit is to our students,” said Bohlen.  “If you combine this with what we’re trying to do in the way of Student Life, we’re not just a place to go to school, we’re a place you go to build your whole person.”

The First Choice program is available now for students who wish to enroll at Trinidad State Junior College in the fall of 2013.

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