The numbers say a lot about the opportunities the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation offers young people through its college scholarship program.
A total of 2,678 students currently receive scholarships — now up to $3,600 a semester and up to $500 a semester for books — to one of Nebraska's state universities, colleges or community colleges.
But there's something Allen Greenberg, the foundation's president, wants high school students, parents and high school counselors to know: While the scholarships are based primarily on financial need, that doesn't necessarily mean poverty.
Students from families with higher incomes — as much as $95,000 — may be eligible, depending on the family's ability to pay. For that, the foundation looks at the expected family contribution, same as on a federal financial aid application. Such contributions can vary significantly depending on a family's assets, size and other factors.
Greenberg said foundation officials are concerned about students from families who earn too much to qualify for Pell Grants but don't necessarily have the resources to pay for college. Those students are more likely to take out loans or work longer hours, which can contribute to students taking longer to complete degrees or not finishing at all.
Greenberg is encouraging students and their families to give the program a closer look. The foundation begins accepting applications each Jan. 1. More information, including eligibility requirements and the online application, is available on the foundation's website, www.buffettscholarships.org.
“We think there are a lot more who are potentially eligible,” he said. “We really, really want to make sure people are aware of it and put in an application.”
The foundation, started in the 1960s, now offers approximately 800 new awards for incoming freshmen each year. The William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation funds about 10 percent of the scholarships the foundation awards.
Once students are awarded a scholarship, they don't have to reapply as long as they maintain the required 2.5-grade-point average and remain in good standing with their college or university. The scholarships continue for up to five years at four-year institutions and for up to three years at community colleges.
Applicants must graduate from a Nebraska high school and be a Nebraska resident. Last year, the foundation received 1,431 eligible applications and awarded 805 scholarships. About 760 students accepted. The rest declined for various reasons, which often include a decision to attend an out-of-state college or one the foundation doesn't fund.
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