SIKESTON -- About $2.5 million -- and likely more -- in scholarships is expected to be awarded to graduating seniors from a few surrounding high schools during their commencements over the next week.
Although school guidance counselors said they haven't noticed a huge change in the cumulative amount of scholarships their graduating classes receive each year, they have noticed more scholarship opportunities -- and students taking advantage of those.
Felicia Kennedy, senior counselor at Sikeston High School, said she noticed early on this year's seniors were very attentive to the fact they could apply for scholarships.
"They know they will need money to go to school," Kennedy said. "There's tons of money out there through scholarships -- it's a just a matter of tapping into them."
Historically, Sikeston High School awards $1 million in scholarships each year to its graduating class. Kennedy said she thinks the figure will be about the same for the 215 seniors graduating this year.
Kelly High School counselor Rhonda Ratledge said the school typically awards around $500,000 in scholarships from year to year. Last year the total was $650,000. These amounts include what the students would receive over four years of college and are a mixture of endowed, university, local organization and school club scholarships, she said.
"This year more of my kids are getting scholarships," Ratledge said of the 71-
member class. "I'm not sure why. It may be because they're a brighter group of students."
Ratledge also credited newer scholarships made available like Southeast Missouri State University's Missouri Assessment Program Achievement Scholarship, which is a renewable scholarship based on MAP test scores that covers the costs of textbooks for four yours.
Laura White, counselor at East Prairie High School, said right now it looks as though about $250,000 in scholarships and grants will be awarded to some of the students in the 59-member class.
Last year's graduating class at New Madrid County Central High School received $320,000 in scholarships. Counselor Emily Carlisle predicts this year's 95-member graduating class will receive a little more than last year's.
"There's thousands of scholarships nationally. It's just overwhelming. We also have some very generous organizations locally that help fund scholarships, too," Carlisle said.
Colleges and universities award scholarships automatically for some students based on ACT scores and class rank, Carlisle said. Sometimes scholarships are based on financial need. The content of the student's transcript is a factor, too -- not just the grade point average but what classes were taken such as advanced placement or college dual courses, she said.
"The number of students applying is increasing, and I think putting that number (of scholarships) out there makes students realize there's a lot of money available," said Charleston High School counselor Lisa Harris.
Harris estimated last year about $400,000 in scholarships was awarded to students in the 67-member class. She anticipates around the same figure this year for the school's 58 graduating seniors.
"For each scholarship we had locally, 20 to 25 seniors applied for it," Harris said. "That's over half of our senior class applying for scholarships. They are seeing they do have the potential."