College isn’t cheap, sholarships help |

College isn’t cheap, sholarships help

by Ben Barenholtz, Of the Record Staff

The Park City Community Scholarship program provides an annual opportunity for local donors to create scholarships for college-bound seniors at Park City High School. The scholarships were distributed at an awards ceremony this week.

Originally operated by the Park City Education Foundation, the scholarship program eventually transferred to the high school and is currently administered by the counseling department in conjunction with its college planning program. Over 23 years the program has doled out over 1.5 million dollars to students to help offset college expenses, which are on the rise.

The average cost of attending a private four-year university in 2009-2010 was $26,273, up 4.4 percent from the previous year. The average cost of attending a public in-state four-year university in 2009-2010 was $7,020, up 6.5 percent from the previous year, according The College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges. In the last decade the average total charges have risen by 41 percent for public four-year universities and 34 percent for private four-year schools.

Despite the relative affluence of the area – Summit County was ranked No. 22, on a list of the 25 highest-income counties by median household income in 2006-2008 according to the United States Bureau of the Census – the counseling department at PCHS said many students need help paying for college.

Financial concerns are crucial for many seniors when it comes to deciding what school they are going to attend. Scholarships and grants regardless of amount are greatly appreciated, said students.

"It’s a drop in the bucket," said a student being realistic about his total college costs. "But it still helps out financially and allows [me] to focus on school work," he continued, expressing the fact that every dollar helps.

Scholarships range from $250 to $6,000 and, this year, were awarded to nearly 120 students. Each donor chooses a name, dollar amount, criteria for qualification and the quantity of recipients. Criteria can include a single standard, or multiple ones, such as, top 1/3 of class, 3.0 GPA, obstacles overcome, serious challenges, physical challenges or leadership. Some donors give multiple awards while other choose to allow the review committee to split the money between recipients.

In the spring students fill out an application and specify the scholarships for which they feel they are most eligible. A review committee, sometimes including the donor, is established for each scholarship and reviews the applications and selects a recipient.

Park City High School alumna Brianna Wilson was on hand to give out two awards named in her honor: the Brianna Wilson Hard Worker scholarship and the Brianna Wilson Family Challenges Scholarship. Her mother Lisa, who put herself through school and knows how hard it can be, created the scholarships, said Wilson.

"She knows she wouldn’t be where she is today if she hadn’t had a few people believe in her," Wilson said of her mother.

The Family Challenges Scholarship was awarded based upon what obstacles the candidate and his / her family has faced.

"[The criteria] wasn’t so much about grades as about the stories," Wilson said. "The story behind the transcript is important."

Having worked a job during high school was one of the criteria for the Hard Worker Award.

Nancy Michalko, community scholarship advisor at PCHS, extolled the Park City Women’s Business Network for raising $10,000, which was awarded to four lucky young women, Audrey Kohout, Melody Roguschka, Brittiany Gebo, Gillian Gorelik; each receiving $2,500 for their college expenses. She also thanked UPS, the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, the PTSO and the Booster Club for their consistent support.