Over 100 new scholarships from the Bernard Osher Foundation, each worth as much as $1000, will be available by the end of the year, officials said.

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Over 100 new scholarships from the Bernard Osher Foundation, each worth as much as $1000, will be available by the end of the year, officials said.

The Bernard Osher Foundation launched the Osher Initiative for California Community College Students in May of 2008. It raised a challenge to all the community colleges within the state to raise an accumulative $50 million, and pledged to match that amount in a 2-1 ratio.

PCC President Mark W. Rocha said that PCC generated about $1.8 million from successful fundraising over the course of three years.  It is the largest amount raised within California. The Osher Foundation matched that with an additional $900,000, making the total over $2 million.

The $2 million is an endowment scholarship; the funds are held by the Pasadena City College Foundation, like money in a savings account, and accumulates a 5 percent interest rate per year to create more scholarships, Rocha said.

A large portion of the money came from private donors, many of them PCC alumni, he said. The rest were from bequests, those who willed their money to the PCC Foundation, and the Osher Foundation.

Rocha said the gap between the number of applicants for scholarships and financial aid, and those who receive it, will soon close.

“There will be competition with these scholarships. We’re close to the point where no student should not have to stop school because they couldn’t afford it,” Rocha said.

He emphasized the importance of scholarships and not loans. “We don’t believe in loading students down with debt,” Rocha said. “The key is to make sure you get into financial aid. We tell students to learn about and apply for all that you’re eligible for.”

To be eligible, applicants must have completed a minimum of 24 degree-applicable units, be enrolled in at least six units and be qualified for the Board of Governor’s fee waiver, said Jill Scofield, director of public relations for the Foundation for California Community Colleges.

Students demonstrating the most financial need will have priority.

The maximum amount each student can receive is $1000. Students who are not full-time will be pro-rated at $750 for a three-quarter unit load and $500 for a part-time student, she said.

The scholarship will cover academic related expenses that include enrollment fees, books and equipment. It does not cover housing or transportation.

“[It’s] a permanent endowment that will support students in perpetuity. With prudent investment, I hope it will continue to grow,” Scofield added.

“The minimum PCC will receive is 130 scholarships a year. It can be greater in given year,” she said. “This [endowment fund] will be forever.”

David J. Le Claire, assistant director of the office of scholarships and financial aid, echoes Rocha’s sentiment on borrowing, and discourages it.

“Students need to be aggressive searching for scholarships and financial aid,” Le Claire said. “The more awards [received] speak of your commitment. It can only help in the end with work, applying for other scholarships and admission.”

There is no specific date set as of yet for when the scholarships will be made available, but it will definitely be done by the end of the year, Le Claire said.

Rocha said that the best place students can go to for more information and updates on the Bernard Osher Scholarships are Student Services and Financial Aid. More information can also be found on the Bernard Osher Foundation website.

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