Don’t let scholarship deadline sneak up

Hey high school juniors, this is for you and your parents.

Yes, this school year is winding down. Yes, you’re eager for summer vacation to start. Yes, you’re eager, maybe a little apprehensive, about becoming seniors.

But if you’re a junior planning to attend college after graduation next year, the Community Foundation of Jackson County needs to share some information with you as you consider all of the steps that will take you to campus.

The good news for this spring’s juniors across the state is that Lilly Endowment recently renewed a program that offers a competitive full-tuition scholarships for Hoosier high school graduates attending any accredited public or private college or university in Indiana.

With that news, however, comes a new, earlier deadline for submitting applications for that program and the other scholarships administered by the Community Foundation.

This year’s high school juniors — and their parents — need to be aware that they must complete and submit the Foundation’s common scholarship application by Aug. 17 this summer, just a matter of days after the start of their senior year. Applications are now available on the Foundation’s website No reason to wait.

Foundation Vice President Sue Smith, who shoulders much of the workload on our scholarship process, diligently started contacting area high school counselors as soon as we learned of the earlier deadline for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program. That work goes on, and the Foundation will continue to remind students, counselors and parents of the earlier deadline and the need to make sure applications are completed and submitted in time.

Once the Aug. 17 deadline passes, school counselors will provide transcripts and appraisal sheets for each applicant. None of that changes. None of the information needed to complete the application process changes from what we collected with our old deadline.

It just needs to be turned in sooner.

We’re also asking counselors to urge their students to start gathering their letters of recommendations now rather than when school starts in early August. That can only speed things up and ease what can be, to some students and their families, a stressful time.

The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment created the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program in 1998 to help address Indiana ranking near the bottom of the 50 states in the percentage of its 25-year-old residents who hold a baccalaureate degree.

The new, earlier deadline is an outcome of a Lilly Endowment survey of the program last year, an outcome that it called a “compelling recommendation” from community foundations that a number of them suggested selecting Lilly Scholars earlier in the school year would give students more time to decide which school to attend and allow schools more time to recruit Lilly Scholars.

The program, which has helped more than 4,200 Indiana high school graduates, is designed to raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana and increase awareness of the potential of community foundations to improve the quality of life in our counties.

Increasing educational attainment among Jackson County residents is an important part of the Foundation’s mission to help grow better tomorrows.

Concern about the education levels here was a key factor when the Foundation brought together other partners from the community such as the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce and the city of Seymour to build the Jackson County Learning Center.

The Foundation’s efforts to improve educational opportunities extends beyond programs focused on college, including support of the Jackson County Education Coalition’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program for 4-year-olds and the encouragement of workforce development in partnership with Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and others.

It may seem a little out of sync, working with high school juniors and counselors now about 2017 scholarships when we’ve yet to distribute this year’s scholarship awards, but it’s important that we make our juniors aware now of this important step that can help them and their parents finance their college educations.

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour, IN 472

74. For information about donating to the foundation, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to The foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1992 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Jackson County forever. The foundation may also be found on Facebook at J