While earning a college education is beneficial, it is also notoriously expensive.
According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition could be as high as $23,000 per year.
Ten academically talented, yet economically disadvantaged students elementary honor students in the Chattahooche Valley are getting a head start covering that cost through Columbus Scholars.
The students gathered at Richards Middle School in Columbus, Ga., along with their guardians, parents and supporters, for the 5th Annual Columbus Scholars Ceremony.
Columbus Scholars in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Chattahoochee Valley, and awards each of their selected fifth graders $7,500 per person towards their college education.
Chairman Ben Holden of Columbus Scholars said he started this program in hopes of paying it forward.
"I wanted to break the barriers that stood between college and economically disadvantaged students," Holden said. "I wanted to provide a way for the academically talented students...I might have never been able to go to college without the help of some scholarships and sponsors that helped me graduate with no student loans."
Ayvah Horner, a fifth grader at Britt David Elementary Magnet Academy, is one of the selected scholars. She said she was nervous about not getting the scholarship.
"I didn't think that I was going to get it," Ayvah said. "But I'm so excited I did. I want to go to Auburn University and become a veterinarian. I want to become a canine specialist."
Pat Horner, Ayvah's grandmother, was more than excited for her granddaughter. She was in tears throughout the whole ceremony.
"I was so excited for her," Horner said, wiping tears from her eyes. "Ayvah wanted to go to college, but with tuition fee and financial situation, I was so worried. This relieved my worries. God is good, and this is one step towards Ayvah's goal."
Sabrina Ford, Ayvah's mother, always encouraged her daughter to study well, because Ford grew up in foster cares and understood the struggle of getting an education.
"I want my daughter to go to college and be successful," Ford said. "Once I see my daughter graduate from college, I would have achieved my life goal. I would be so happy. I'm so proud of her."
"I was so happy that people cared about me this much," Ayvah said. "Grandma was crying, and my mom was telling me she was proud of me. Mom almost started crying too."
To see if your child can qualify for Columbus Scholars, visit their website at http://www.columbusscholars.org/plaintext/home/home.aspx
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