Foundation system

Community Foundation for Southwest Washington reports fewer students applying for scholarships

The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, a nonprofit that provides thousands of dollars in financial aid to students pursuing high school, reports low student interest and overall submissions in this year’s application round. .

The slow start of applicants is unusual for the foundation, which awarded approximately $913,820 from 313 awards in 2021. variety of interests and qualifications. Funding comes from other nonprofit organizations, independent private donors, and larger interest groups.

The 2022 application cycle will remain open for many of its scholarships until April 30.

Deanna Green, scholarship manager and development associate at the foundation, attributed the dwindling number of applicants to a declining interest in higher education as a preferred path for high school graduates.

“Students aren’t sure what they want to do,” Green said. “There is more than one trend of people wanting to enter the job market. There is a lot of fatigue because of online and virtual teaching.

National research from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows a dramatic decline in secondary school enrollment, especially among those seeking two-year associate degrees. Community college enrollment for fall 2021 was estimated to be 15% lower than fall 2019.

Clark College has taken an even bigger hit to enrollment since the pandemic began.

In 2019, Clark had approximately 2,234 full-time equivalent students. At the start of 2021, that number had fallen to 1,617, a two-year decline of 27.62%.

In order to cope with the declining interest, the foundation has made some changes to its outreach system and programs to attract a wider range of students. Adding an equity lens, Green said, helps connect communities to available financial aid opportunities they may not have been aware of before.

“We keep re-evaluating programs, awareness is really important,” Green said. “We think to ourselves, ‘Who are we not seeing?'”

The foundation engages in conversations with careers offices in local school districts and has led one-on-one presentations and discussions at local Boys and Girls Clubs in Vancouver.

From a technical point of view, the foundation has redesigned the application portal of its website to improve its user-friendliness. Similar to the common application for colleges, the foundation’s new service allows users to fill out a general application that asks eligibility questions about specific extracurricular activities, cultural backgrounds, professional interests and more to better direct students towards scholarships that might be best suited for them.

“Instead of students having to sort and sift through everything, the system will help them decide. No more wasted guessing time,” Green said.

Although the trend of not continuing in college is a multi-year problem, Green suspects that these 2022 graduates – who are now finishing their third pandemic-affected school year – are increasingly exhausted than previous classes. It may be next year, she said, that enrollment numbers will really start to drop.

To answer those doubts about a two- or four-year option, the foundation offers a number of financial aid options for students pursuing vocational schools, apprenticeship programs, or even a specific technical certificate.

Among the scholarship funds with deadlines fast approaching is the Vancouver Rotary Scholarship 2022, which is eligible for any student currently enrolled in Vancouver Public Schools, La Center, Clark College or WSU Vancouver. Online applications are due by Sunday.

The foundation also offers a surprise general scholarship of $2,500 to one or more students who do not receive a specific award.

Decisions are usually announced in early June.