This may sound like the American dream come true, until you're hit with a tuition bill of $10,000 or more — after you've already maxed out on financial aid provided by your college and the government. Your family has no or bad credit and therefore can't qualify for loans, and no one in your family has ever applied to college and so cannot give you advice on obtaining scholarships.
What do you do? If you're lucky, you connect with the Glow Foundation, which provides financial education, mentoring and scholarships to high-potential, low-income students.
Prior to starting Glow, founder Adam Marchick mentored a low-income student who beat the odds by succeeding in high school, getting into college and applying for and obtaining financial aid. However, the student nearly ended up joining the military instead due to a $500 gap between what his family could afford and the amount of his financial aid (Marchick ended up writing the $500 check himself).
This struggle was not an isolated occurrence, Marchick learned. Every year in the U.S., an estimated 200,000 college-ready high school students do not pursue higher learning because of financial barriers. A student with a D grade point average from a high-income family has the same probability of enrolling in college as a student with an A grade point average from a low-income family. Marchick determined to do something to help change these statistics, so he started Glow.
Glow Scholars are high school seniors who participate in financial education classes, develop their own budget, apply for existing scholarships and compete for "unmet need" funding. Many scholars are also paired with mentors to help them complete these tasks.
Mountain View resident Ali Zuckerbrow has been a Glow mentor for the past two years. She meets with her student once or twice a month to help her fill out college applications and financial aid forms. She also helps her use online search tools to find and apply for appropriate scholarships.
"It's inspiring to see these students realize their goals and dreams. I also really enjoy attending the end-of-year workshops with all the Glow Scholars; it's great to see them so happy now that they have been accepted to college and know that they can afford it," says Zuckerbrow.
Founded in 2006, Glow has been expanding rapidly. This year, the number of students in the program has doubled from 100 to 200. Amazingly, Glow has successfully scaled up its staff and volunteers. The main challenge is increasing funding enough to continue to provide the "unmet need" grants to ensure that the scholars who complete the program will be able to afford college even if their financial aid packages fall a bit short.
To that end, Glow is holding its first annual Glow Scholar Dinner on April 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Sheraton in Palo Alto. Tickets are $100, and attendees will each go home with a $50 gift certificate to the spa at the Four Seasons, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that their financial contribution will be leveraged into many more scholarship dollars.
To learn more, buy tickets or make a contribution, visit glowfoundation.org.