Graduation day at USC Aiken this spring will be the culmination of a 30-year ambition for Bath resident Anne Fulcher. It's a goal she hoped would have been made easier with the support of the Life Scholarship, but, at age 56, she found out she actually wasn't eligible.
Financial Aid resources available for non-traditional students
The USC Aiken Office of Financial Aid website offers information regarding non-traditional student scholarships at the school.• The Delayed Education Scholarship for Women awards $3,500 for an applicant enrolled in a course of study relating to a degree in Nuclear Science or Nuclear Engineering in a U.S. institution. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for the scholarship, which is sponsored by the American Nuclear Society. • The Talbots Scholarship Foundation is available for undergraduate students and is sponsored by the Talbots Charitable Foundation. The organization provides up to 10 awards of $15,000 and one award of $30,000. Only women who have earned a high school diploma or GED at least 10 years ago are eligible for the scholarship.
“I worked really hard to get my grade point average up, but last summer when I called the Financial Aid office after making the dean's list, they said, 'Oh, you don't qualify for the Life Scholarship,'” Fulcher said.
She was ineligible, she explained, because she wasn't a recent high school graduate and had already earned a two-year associate degree from the Medical College of Georgia.
Frustrated by the outcome, she then developed the idea for a “Second Life Scholarship,” a new form of financial aid for non-traditional students age 25 and older.
“I sat down and developed a criteria and an outline for it,” she said, adding that her proposal included a 3.0 grade point average requirement.
She hoped that previous college grades would not be included in any final draft of the scholarship, especially since she felt most non-traditional students have improved academically compared to when they first enrolled years ago.
She's also aiming to have the scholarship be available statewide and funded at least to some degree by the S.C. Educational Lottery.
To facilitate the scholarship's development, she's spoken with local S.C. Senators Shane Massey and Tom Young as well as local S.C. Representatives Bill Clyburn and Roland Smith.
“They've been supportive of this,” she said.
“It's so expensive to go back and get a four-year degree. Then, to be able to go back, have good grades and not qualify for anything, it's just wrong.”
USCA has actually already expressed interest in establishing the scholarship as a pilot program exclusive to the school, she said, but needs donations in order to create a funding source and begin accepting applications.
Students cannot currently apply for the scholarship since it is not funded.
Judith Goodwin, development officer for USCA's Advancement Office, said certain scholarship details still need to be worked out, particularly since it's currently not funded.
She noted that the college currently offers scholarships that non-traditional students can qualify for, but they carry a variety of specific criteria.
She also applauded Fulcher's efforts to try to provide a new avenue for older students to re-enroll.
“It's a great idea. I think she's excited about the future, and I think she wants others to share in the excitement of going back to school.”
For more information about donating to the scholarship fund, visit www.usca.edu and click on the Giving tab.