Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Deadline Approaching for College Scholarships Benefiting MHS Students!

This past week, the Melrose High PTO hosted board members from the Melrose High School Permanent Scholarship Fund (http://www.mhsfund.org/index.html). The Fund began in 1960 and remains a recognized 501©3 in service to college-bound MHS students. With the blessing of the PTO, I’m sharing notes from a PTO member that includes highlights of the Scholarship Fund Board’s presentation. (Edits and errors mine.)
Ø  In 2015, the Board distributed $260K in scholarships (up from $150k several years ago).
Ø  The money for last year’s distribution came from several sources, the two largest being dividends from investments and donations. 
Ø  The Board is hoping to disperse a similar amount this year. After fundraising efforts are complete, Treasurer Jeff Pitcher will determine how much money will be allocated to this year’s program.
Ø  The #1 thing our kids can do to help sustain this program for future years is to write a thank you note to the people who fund the scholarship they receive, letting them know where they are going to school, what they hope to study, and their appreciation.  Including a senior picture is a nice touch that is valued by donors.
Ø  There are many scholarships and some of them, but not all, have stipulations (e.g., must have attended Horace Mann, must be going to Holyoke College, must be a baseball player, must be a Protestant girl).
Ø  Each student is provided with a generic application packet to fill out. Students do not apply for specific scholarships but do provide a lot of information that will be used to match them with scholarships that have stipulations.  Some scholarships are based on need, some are based on merit, and some have no specific criteria.
Ø  MHS teacher Suzanne Fogarty and eight teachers divide up the applications and interview students. They then regroup to determine the scholarship awards.
Ø  Scholarships are awarded the week of graduation and are printed in the graduation program.
Ø  One student may be listed as receiving only one scholarship and another may be listed as receiving four or five, but it’s likely that the one scholarship contains much more money than the amount in each of the individual scholarships.
Ø  The application asks for annual income of the parents and some parents will not provide this information, which makes them ineligible for need-based scholarships. Only Ms. Fogarty and the eight teachers see this financial information and then it is shredded. 
Ø  The student receives a voucher for the scholarship and can turn it in when he/she wants the funds to be sent to the college. Students have a multi-year window (stated in the award letter) to use this one-time voucher. Money is always sent directly to the school and never to the student.
Ø  Ms. Fogarty told of a student who was getting a “free ride” to college who received a scholarship, and then asked to be removed from the program so there was more money for other students.
Ø  Packets are due Feb 24th.  No late packets will be accepted.
Ø  For a full list of scholarships, click here http://www.mhsfund.org/pdfs/mhspsfpermanentfunds.pdf.