Students can benefit from ASPIRE

Eagle Point High School is one of 115 schools in Oregon participating in ASPIRE program (Access to Student Assistance Program in Reach of Everyone). It is administered by the Oregon Student Assistance Commission (OSAC) which, in turn, partners with several including Oregon Community Foundation, Ford Family Foundation, Gear Up and Department of Human Services.

ASPIRE serves students by :
• Helping high schools build a sustainable community of volunteer advisors.
•Educating students and families about the scholarship application proceeds and other options for paying for postsecondary education.
• Providing and advising resources and encouragement to help students access education and training beyond high school.

The EPHS coordinator is Tracy Hanson. There are eight or so volunteers. Each volunteer meets one-on-one with students.

ASPIRE volunteers such as Janet Siedlecki spend two hours a week talking to students and encouraging them to do the work necessary to fill out applications for college scholarships.

At the beginning of the school year, Hanson goes class to class introducing herself as the ASPIRE coordinator. Along with a volunteer they start explaining  the four steps to obtain a scholarship. This practice begins with sophomores. The four steps are:
• Grades
• Community service
• Extra Curricular activities
• Letters of recommendation

Students learn about the essay they will need to write and what it should include. It is very important that students get on board with four steps as early as possible. Students whose families have been involved in community service or church service may find community service almost a natural; whereas those who have not been so involved may need extra assistance in this area.

Siedlecki said as a volunteer she urges students to keep track of their volunteer activity and when they reach their senior year, it is very important to file applications as early as possible.

Working with ASPIRE means one application to OSAC access over 400 scholarship opportunities.

Hanson said in addition to ASPIRE, those involved with the Eagle Center, councilors, TRIO and teachers share information on scholarships, but the actual application is up to the student.
OSAC awards to EPHS students:
2008-09        19 awards    $53,792       Aver. $2,831 ea.
2007-08        20 awards    $50,911      Aver. $2,545 ea.
2006-07          7 awards    $22,601      Aver. $3,228 ea.

In addition many local scholarships are awarded. According to Hanson in 2009 there were 104 scholarships given in the amount of $99,653.28 9 (average $958 each) and in 2008, 92 received a total of $105,580.79 (average $1,140).

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of working with the students,” said Siedlecki.

Another volunteer, Lois Wilson, started as an ASPIRE volunteer, but was able to spend her volunteer time each Wednesday afternoon with students in Mr. Shroeder’s class. “I guess I am one of those odd people who enjoys teens,” said Wilson.

To obtain volunteer information or to learn how you can help your child with scholarships, please call Tracy Hanson at 541-830-6723.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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