Students interested in taking on postsecondary education could get a financial boost from The Community Foundation of Frederick County’s largest pot of scholarship money in its history.

Through the foundation, donors are providing more than $1 million in postsecondary scholarship funds that applicants can vie for to help ease expenses during the 2016-17 academic year. That money will come from about 270 different funds that altogether provide financial aid to a variety of people.

Eligible applicants include high school students, students already in the postsecondary world and older, nontraditional students ready to head back to school, said Joyce Summers, director of marketing and communications for the foundation. The scholarships cover postsecondary opportunities including undergraduate, graduate, master’s and doctorate studies as well as trade school and vocational training.

Betsy Day, the foundation’s president and CEO, said that donors working with the foundation are giving significantly more, which built up the current scholarship pool. That influx includes several large bequests over the past year.

The scholarship pool is larger than ever, and the foundation wants people to take advantage of it. The application period runs from March 30 through April 30. Those interested can apply at www.scholarshipsfrederickcounty.com.

While some scholarship requirements are broad, others get specific. Donors can choose whether a recipient must be a public school student, have a certain minimum grade point average or be on track for a specific course of study, among other criteria. The study fields include subjects as varied as forestry, culinary arts and psychology.

Day said that many donors tend to weigh financial need most heavily in their scholarship parameters.

“They want to make sure that the students really need the money,” she said, adding that “academic promise” is a close second.

Students each submit one application, which is first analyzed by software and then passed on to community volunteers for review.

For the 2015-16 academic year, 280 students out of about 1,000 applicants received 371 scholarships totaling about $839,000. That marked a significant jump from what the foundation’s funds provided the previous year when about $552,000 was given. That increase was in large part due to donation growth, Summers said.

The foundation first awarded scholarships to 87 students amounting to $54,000 in 1991.

The recipients for the current school year won a range of awards, including many around $1,000 and several at $10,000. One student won about $17,000.

Ann Burnside Love, one of the donors, said her family’s scholarship fund was created in honor of her husband, a beloved doctor in the community who died in a car crash. The Ann Burnside Love and Thomas A. Love, M.D., Family Scholarship Fund’s next scholarship will provide $2,000 to a student accepted to the University of Maryland School of Medicine or the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Love said she would be “very happy” to help a student avoid debt through a scholarship.

“I think it’s a long-term view of education and the value of education, and the fact that these days in particular, it’s getting so that college expenses are so high that qualified students may or may not be able to do it without ending up with enormous debt,” she said.

The Jeffrey Hayek Scholarship Fund was also created by people seeking to honor a deceased family member. Robin Hayek said her son Jeffrey, who died from a blood clotting disorder when he was 10, would have graduated from Oakdale High School and her daughter graduated from Linganore High School. The family therefore set up a $1,000 scholarship for a graduating senior from one of those two high schools.

Hayek said she’s heard from families whose student received the scholarship that it helped lessen their burden.

“It’s very meaningful for the families who are the donors because it is a way to have their loved one remembered and thought about and carried on,” she said.

Grace Odom received three scholarships for two academic years totaling about $3,600, which helped her as a student at Frederick Community College and then Towson University, where she studied business administration. She now works for the foundation as a marketing and communications associate, a decision made in part because she saw the impact of the scholarships.

“It was a great motivator for me,” Odom said of the scholarships she won. “It just really showed that people other than my immediate family and friends believed in me and believed in me in the sense that they’re able to put the financial power into my success.”

Follow Lindsay Powers on Twitter: @linds_powers.

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