Nelson high school leavers are working harder to find financial scholarships in an effort to further their education.
This year 17 students at Nayland College have earned financial scholarships to universities in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, totalling more than $100,000. It’s a fifty per cent increase on the number of students from last year says the head of careers at the school, Margaret McCorkindale.
She says the reason for the increase is students trying to keep the cost of study down and not wanting to be lumped with a massive student loan years after they’ve finished studying.
Bonnie Brown, 17, says she applied for seven scholarships at the start of the year and was accepted for two at Victoria University. She says if she hadn’t got a scholarship she would have taken a gap year to work and save for her studies. As it is she will work during her summer holidays as a waitress to help pay her way next year and will also have to apply for a student loan.
Classmate Jessica Brown, also 17, is in a similar situation. She applied for six scholarships, got two and will use that along with her savings and money from working this summer to help get her through university in Auckland.
“At the start of the year I started looking at what was around because I knew my parents weren’t going to pay for it so I had to start looking,” says Jessica.
Bonnie says having the scholarships, a total of $20,000 over three years, takes the pressure off.
“If we hadn’t got them there would have been difficulties. Having them is a lot less pressure as well, it’s not just our holiday job we’re relying on, we still have that, but it’s a relief that we don’t have to pay for everything.”
Margaret says students are more aware of what’s available and says the number of Nayland students applying is up 50 per cent on previous years. “I’m still thinking with the [financial] downturn perhaps there’s more talk in families about funding, financing and how they’ll do it. Also, there have been a number of other students who have opted to take a gap year and part of that has been financial to try to raise money to keep the costs of study down.”
Nelson College students also did well securing scholarships, with two students, Hamish Mellor and Ed Palmer, earning a $50,000 University of Auckland scholarship, the latter also secured a $35,000 scholarship from Otago University. Other major scholarships were to Lincoln, Canterbury and Victoria universities.
Careers advisor for Nelson College Leigh Gray says more money was collected by students in smaller grants and scholarships, including from NMIT and Network Tasman and Bowater Motor Group.
She says awareness about financial scholarships is growing but there is still a huge number of “excellent” students who don’t qualify and with 43 per cent of Year 13 students planning on attending university next year they will have to pile their study costs onto a student loan.