News: College Access & Success

“I Feared [College] was Something I Wouldn't Get to Do”

Friday, August 17, 2018  
Posted by: Lindsay Broderick, Staff Writer
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For students underrepresented in higher education, every dollar counts when piecing together a financial aid package. And their ability to obtain those dollars and succeed in college depends on policymakers establishing a Streamlined FAFSA and approving increased, sustainable funding for need-based aid like Pell Grants and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants as well as programs like Federal Work-Study, AmeriCorps, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

For Elisa DeLong, college was never a question. She knew she would continue her education after high school. However, after her parents’ divorce, finances became even tighter for the family.

“I was worried. I had always wanted to go to college, but I feared it was something I wouldn’t get to do,” Elisa said. “And I have three other siblings. My parents can’t just give me all their money to go to college. So there’s been a big push for scholarships and push for as much financial assistance as I can get.”

Elisa’s high school guidance office spread the word about the Emporia Community Foundation (ECF). When she and her mom heard about the organization, and saw it was only 20 miles away from their house, they both agreed it was something Elisa should sign up for. Through ECF, Elisa benefited from the Brown Family College Access Endowment Fund, which covered the cost of the college courses she was taking in high school.

It wasn’t just a financial benefit. These courses made Elisa feel more prepared to enter college.

“It was eye-opening for me to see the big differences you’ll be making from high school to college, and not having to make a huge jump yet, it was a good way to transition,” she said.

Elisa's involvement with the ECF also prepared her for the college application process. The ECF required Elisa to apply for numerous scholarships to fund her participation in the dual enrollment courses. Elisa said she felt comfortable applying to college and various scholarships because of the practice she had gotten through the scholarship applications she applied for within the ECF.

Through her participation in the ECF’s dual enrollment program, Elisa was able to earn 15 college credits during her high school career. Now, she is the recipient of five local scholarships to help her fund her college education.

Elisa will be starting her freshman year at Emporia State University. She hopes to become a high school math teacher.