Gabe Ware attends Pellissippi State Community College on a "tnAchieves" scholarship
As many high school seniors begin to prepare for college, one local scholarship program is gearing up for a higher number of applicants this year.
"tnAchieves" provides assistance to public school students who continue their education at a community college. In East Tennessee, those schools include Pellissippi State Community College, Roane State Community College, and Walter State Community college.
The "last dollar" scholarship provides funds to cover whatever tuition costs remain after financial aid and other scholarships.
However, money isn't the only barrier for many students headed to college.
"When we started working with students, we realized there was a much bigger obstacle, and that was so many students lacked a support system at home," said "tnAchieves" Director of College Access Graham Thomas.
Each scholarship recipient is assigned a mentor who will guide the student through the paperwork and deadlines before entering college.
"It's just to be there to support them, to remind them -- 'Hey, you need to take your act by this date, you need to go to orientation,'" said Les Fout, who is now entering his fourth year as a mentor with the program.
"tnAchieves" expects more than 10,000 students will apply for the scholarship this year, up from 6,500 in 2012 and 5,200 in 2011. To meet that demand, the program is actively recruiting new mentors.
Fout says mentoring only requires a small time commitment, but the payoff to him and his students is incredible.
"They're going to have a greater opportunity to have success in life and change their families lives forever."
For more information about the "tnAchieves" scholarship program or becoming a mentor, visit the "tnAchieves" website, or contact Gabe Thomas at 615-604-1306.
Thomas says applications for the scholarship will also be available to student through their school office starting this week.