WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Cape Fear Community College has a lot more cash in its scholarship fund which will come in handy during education budget cuts.
The school held a fundraiser on campus Thursday where students shared their stories about the importance of scholarship money.
Many say they wouldn't have been able to atten the school without it.
"I lived on the streets for two and a half years," said 41-year-old Lorie Patcheco. "I traveled around from town to town wherever someone would give me a place to stay."
While living in a Wilmington shelter, Lorie heard about a program offering scholarships to Cape Fear Community College. She says they saved her life.
During the fundraiser Lorie spoke to local business owners and community leaders, telling the story of how those scholarships changed her life. She said the scholarship helped her along the road to becoming a paralegal.
"You have a lot of benevolent people here in Wilmington and Pender County that want to see people have not a handout but a handup," said Zander Guy.
Research shows in tough economic times more people turn to community colleges, but with more education budget cuts, it makes accepting all the applicants very difficult.
The worst case scenario obviously is people need us, but we won't be able to accept them, because we don't have the classes, we don't have the faculty, we're not able to support them," said Scott Ralls, NC president of community colleges.
Officials hope to use success stories like Lorie's when they ask the community and lawmakers for support.
"It's about people in the community helping CFCC students for scholarships," said Lorie. "Whole community working together and helping other people less fortunate."
Lorie has inspired many women at the shelter where she lives. Next year six of them will be attending Cape Fear.
Thursday's luncheon fundraiser raised more than $200,000 for the scholarship fund.