Jacksonville Area Sisters Attribute Success to Florida Prepaid College Foundation Scholarships
“It’s made going to college and graduating without the burden of debt a reality.”
– Marcy and Kristin Jones
The Florida Prepaid College Foundation has awarded more than 21,000 Stanley Tate Project STARS (Scholarship Tuition For At-Risk Students) scholarships for low income and at-risk students to attend Florida’s public universities and colleges over the past 19 years.
In some cases, these Florida Prepaid Plan scholarships dramatically change the lives of an entire family. One such family is the Jones’ of Yulee, Florida, a small community outside of Jacksonville, whose daughters Marcy and Kristin just graduated from the University of Florida this spring debt free.
Marcy points out, “Kristin and I have no student loans, and without the Florida Prepaid College Foundation scholarships we received, there’s no way we would have accomplished that. Our Project STARS scholarships allowed us to attend the University of Florida, our dream school, and move away from home for a real college experience.”
Marcy and her sister are unlike many graduates fresh out of college this spring. According to the College Board, an estimated 60% of bachelor’s degree recipients borrowed to fund their education, and average debt per borrower rose 18% since 2000, to $22,700.
However, much like many of their fellow matriculates, Marcy and Kristin obtained help from Bright Futures and working part-time to finish college debt free. The Project STARS scholarships that Marcy, the oldest in a large family, and her sister Kristin received, allowed them to be able to say something very significant.
“We are the first from our family to graduate from college, and we hope to inspire the rest of our siblings in their college aspirations.”
The Project STARS Scholarship Program provides a matching scholarship wherein half of the funding comes from the Florida Legislature and half from private donations. Jacksonville area State Representative Mike Weinstein is a proud supporter of Project STARS and is passionate about families like the Jones’.
“Project STARS is a successful endeavor and the Foundation’s largest program, with 84 percent of the students meeting the program requirements and preparing for college. With the support of the Florida Legislature and many partner organizations, Project STARS provides students like Marcy and Kristin not only the opportunity to earn a degree but support on their journey to college, enabling them to go on to great things.”
“Florida Prepaid College Plans has really helped my family make college a reality,” Marcy notes appreciatively. “In the future, I plan to use my Family Youth & Consumer Sciences degree to pursue a teaching position or employment with the Florida Department of Children and Families, especially in the agency’s adoption programs in the Alachua area. Because I’ve been given so much, I hope to really give back to Florida.”
Kristin also hopes to pursue a career in education. “In August, I am going to graduate school in North Carolina to study Christian Education and then hope to become a teacher.”
In 2008 alone, The Florida Prepaid College Foundation awarded more than 2,000 Project STARS scholarships to promising students like Marcy and Kristin. Recipients of the scholarships are Florida citizens that qualify as economically disadvantaged and at-risk of dropping out of school. Recipients are also assigned a mentor to guide them on their way to college.
About The Florida Prepaid College Foundation:
The Florida Prepaid College Foundation is the 501(c)(3) direct support organization for the Florida Prepaid College Board. The Foundation was created in 1990 as a public/private partnership. Businesses, organizations, community groups and individuals may purchase contracts through the Foundation, allowing scholarship recipients to benefit from the advantages and guarantee offered by the Florida Prepaid College Plan. The Foundation provides prepaid college scholarships to economically disadvantaged students and to other deserving students in need of assistance.