Non-profit finances students in need

For the past 19 years, a private foundation has been helping non-traditional students by rewarding them a monthly allowance in the form of a unique scholarship.According to financial aid representatives, the terms of the scholarship are simple: the gift is to be given to a non-traditional student with financial need. However, some non-traditional students agree it’s not the terms of the scholarship that has them asking questions, but rather why the scholarship is not advertised publicly.

Former student and single mother Jennifer Glover said she was not aware the scholarship even existed.

“TCU doesn’t really tell you that stuff when you owe them money,” Glover said.

Glover would’ve graduated last year, she said, but she had to drop out prematurely when she had problems with financial aid. Glover, who is a mother to 1-year-old Kaylee, said she is no stranger to college-bound parents.

“When I was younger my dad went back to school and he had to take me with him to class because my mom would be working,” Glover said. “Because I was older and it was only once a week or so, it was OK, but you really can’t go to school with a 1-year-old or a little baby.”

Glover said the money definitely would have made a difference in her schooling, if not toward bills, toward a babysitter for her daughter.

“If she was with a babysitter during the day I could go to class and work at night,” Glover said. “The only bad part is that I wouldn’t get to see her much.”

Glover said she would definitely be grateful if TCU had a daycare center available because that would mean she could arrange her schedule to see her daughter at least once every day on campus and it would cut down on her bills. However, since TCU doesn’t offer a daycare center, scholarship recipients agree the Mary I. Gourley Scholarship is especially helpful to undergraduate parents.

Melet Leafgreen, assistant director of financial aid, says the scholarship is not advertised because it is such a unique award. Leafgreen said the money awarded does not go through the student’s account, it is directly deposited to the recipient in the form of a check.

“Sometimes you cannot really access financial aid until student bills are paid,” Leafgreen said. “This scholarship does not work that way. (Recipients) use it as they see fit and a lot of students use it for childcare.”

According to representatives, the the Mary I. Gourley Foundation was founded in 1988 and since then has helped 563 non-traditional students graduate at a number of different schools.

Karen Krause, director of financial aid at UTA, said the scholarship isn’t advertised at UTA either. Krause said she thinks all schools awarded the scholarship money are likely not to advertise it.

“Because of the criteria established by the foundation, it’s just easier to invite students to apply as we understand their situations,” Krause said. “We’re not trying to keep it a secret but we also know there are limited funds.”

Jenifer Hesselbrock, an undergraduate student and single mother, received the scholarship in spring 2007. Hesselbrock said she had been working with financial aid throughout the year because as a mother of two daughters, 10 and 6, she struggled with financial worries.

“I am one of those people who doesn’t ever have enough money so I was always in the financial aid office and (the scholarship) was heaven sent,” Hesselbrock said. “One day Melet said, ‘Oh apply for this.'”

Hesselbrock said she is aware the scholarship isn’t advertised but as a recipient of $500 a month, she understands why TCU doesn’t publicize the money. She said the scholarship might attract the wrong kind of people interested in fast cash.

“There may be a more qualified person than me but that person may have more options available to them that I didn’t have,” Hesselbrock said. “I think allowing the scholarship to have access to everyone would draw in people who it wasn’t necessarily intended for.”

As for advertising the scholarship on her own time, Hesselbrock said she would certainly spread the word to those who are in need.

“I have absolutely no problem with giving information especially when it helps someone,” Hesselbrock said.

Krause said she has no problem volunteering the information to applicants and she’s sure there are people equally worthy of the scholarship, but advertising it more would mean more applications and more rejections.

“I don’t think any of us have ever had difficulty spending our money,” Krause said. “So if it comes to us having money available we’ll look into advertising it further.”

In the meantime, the scholarship application remains in financial aid available to students who fit the profile.