College costs have risen 91 percent for private schools and 82 percent for public schools in the past 10 years, far out-pacing the ability of government-supported grants and scholarships to meet demand.
The Storm Lake community has responded to the need for private sector scholarship support through the Dollars for Scholars program.
For almost 20 years, Storm Lake Dollars for Scholars has been awarding scholarships to the college-bound seniors from its two high schools, providing them with not only financial support, but a community "pat on the back" as well.
Storm Lake Dollars for Scholars is affiliated with the Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of America, a national organization established to help raise money for high school graduates.
The Storm Lake chapter, like other chapters around the country, is governed by a volunteer board of directors which includes both adults and students from the community.
Scholarship funds are raised through an annual fund drive, which is going on right now.
The goal for this year's drive is $12,004.
All money raised during the drive will be given back to the graduating seniors of St. Mary's and Storm Lake High Schools in the form of scholarships.
In addition, a trust fund has been established through larger gifts and memorials. The interest from this trust fund is also used annually for scholarships. Some scholarships are fully funded by local businesses, service organizations or memorial gifts. These designated scholarships are awarded in the name of the sponsoring business, organization or person.
The dollar amount of the scholarships awarded is approximately equal to the first semester's book fees for an accredited two-year or four-year college or vocational school.
Keeping the dollar amount between $300-$500 allows for more scholarships to be awarded to a greater number of graduates, says Sue Vaudt, Dollars for Scholars Board president.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Dollars for Scholars effort may do so by mailing a contribution to Dollars for Scholars, 119 West 6th Street, Storm Lake, IA 50588.
Any local service group, business or individual interested in fully funding a scholarship can get details by calling Dean Nicholson or Jacque Anderson, Awards co-chairpersons for Dollars for Scholars.