As the college application season comes to a close, the next big question on most seniors’ minds is how they are going to pay for this costly endeavor.
Most seniors are planning on looking to Carmel High for scholarship money, but this might not be as helpful an avenue as they may believe. Depending on the donations during the year, the scholarship fund usually has between $10,000 and $15,000 to award to the senior class.
“You can say that’s a good amount of money,” says scholarship committee chair Dale DePalatis, “but we were giving $10,000 back in the 1960s.”
Last year, 65 applications were submitted and then reviewed by the scholarship committee. These paper applications were weeded down to 25 CHS students who moved on to the interview process.
Every year, only about 15 seniors are awarded scholarship money, according to DePalatis.
Splitting $10,000 in 15 different ways is miniscule in the grand scheme of the cost of college, and DePalatis realizes this. He thinks the answer lies in the Carmel High School Foundation, an entity separate from the Scholarship Fund.
The Carmel High School Foundation was set up 10 years ago by former Economics teacher Donna Krasnow, who joined together with members of the Class of ‘51 to create a scholarship endowment fund.
Endowments work by collecting interest, so only a small percent of money can be used every year. The typical thing to do is to distribute about 5 percent each year, and then with regular interest and good investments, there should be about a 6 percent or 7 percent gain, so the fund can continue to grow every year.
“For us, 5 percent is about $10,000,” DePalatis says.
Despite the affluent community that CHS resides in, there are still problems with increasing the amount in the Carmel High Foundation.
“My goal is to get this fund up to $4 or $5 million so that we can be giving $500,000 to students rather than $10,000,” DePalatis says. “I think that’s doable in this community. I think there are people out there who can give regularly, and there are alumni who have the wherewithal to drop off a big chunk of money if they want to.”
With that kind of logic, it seems odd that the Carmel High School Fund is still so small. Which raises the question, why isn’t the fund increasing?
“I think mainly nobody has asked,” college and career counselor Patricia Hunt confesses. “If someone says to potential investors, ‘We’re trying to support our kids who are achieving and can’t afford college. Will you help?’ the general feedback from almost everybody is, ‘Sure.’”
Despite the small amount of scholarship money being given out, CHS alumni insist that every dollar counts.
“Everything, every award, every dollar helps send students to college,” 2012 CHS valedictorian John Duncan says.
CHS grad Melanie Ingram agrees, noting, “It has come to the point where I must pay my own way through this education, and that feat would be entirely impossible without those scholarships unless I choose to drown myself in loan debt.”
Both Duncan and Ingram were each awarded more than $1,000 in scholarships from CHS last year, and they believe that applying for scholarships, both from the school and outside sources, is essential.
“The Carmel High Scholarship fund, as it is now, certainly contributes toward sending students to college,” Duncan admits. “Unfortunately, in the face of skyrocketing college costs, the scholarship, on its own, plays only a small, though important, role in alleviating that financial need.”
Any bit of money is better than no money, but with the rise of college tuition increasing every year, there is a bigger need for scholarship money now than ever before.
“It would be really nice if we could help students in a significant way,” DePalatis says, “so it’s not just a pat on the back.”