Overcoming the Odds: The Unique Impact of Scholarships for Community College Students

Rob Luce, Vice President of the SME Education Foundation & Maria Fernanda, Founder of IOScholarships

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We believe every student should have access to the educational opportunities they need to pursue the careers they're passionate about - and that means removing as many financial barriers as possible.

When it comes to students attending technical and community colleges, often these financial barriers look much different than those faced by a traditional university student. And yet of the 1,500 applications the SME Education Foundation receives each year for their $1 million+ in scholarship funds, only 5% of applicants are community college students.

In this episode, we're joined by Rob Luce, Vice President of the SME Education Foundation and Maria Fernanda, Founder of IOScholarships, to discuss the unique challenges that community college students face, and why scholarships can be a truly life-changing resource for these individuals.

Quick Facts

  • The SME Education Foundation has been providing scholarships to students for over 40 years
  • Since 2005, the SME Education Foundation has awarded $18 million in scholarships
  • There are 60+ scholarships available through the SME Education Foundation (1 application is all that's required - students will get matched with the scholarships they qualify for)
  • IOScholarships gives underserved, underrepresented STEM students access to over $100 million in scholarship opportunities
  • Since launching, IOScholarships has helped over 10,000 students
  • IOScholarships also matches STEM students with internship opportunities

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. Community college students often face different financial barriers to education than traditional university students: If we compare the tuition cost alone, it's easy to see why university students benefit from scholarships to save on a tuition that could reach six figures over four years - while affordability is built into the community college model. However, generally speaking, the demographics of community college students are much different than university students: often these individuals are already employed, juggling full-time careers with continuing education. They're often raising families, financially supporting a household while also covering the cost of things like childcare.
  2. A debt-free education can make a life-changing difference: For a university student, a scholarship might be the difference between graduating with or without student debt. For a community college student, a scholarship might be the difference between them having to quit school altogether and being able to get a degree that will jumpstart a better career for themselves and their family. Hear Maria Fernanda share some inspiring stories of students she's interviewed on the IOScholarships Superheroes Podcast who have experienced the life-changing benefit of a scholarship.
  3. We need to change the misconceptions about who scholarships are for and increase awareness about opportunities for community college students: The SME Education Foundation is committed to increasing the number of diverse individuals applying for and receiving scholarships for engineering and manufacturing programs. IOScholarships exists to provide scholarship and internship resources for underrepresented individuals. Both of these organizations are spearheading the work we should all be part of - advocating for community college education and increasing awareness about the scholarships available for these programs.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

SME Education Foundation

Connect with the SME Education Foundation online:

Facebook | YouTube | X | LinkedIn


Connect with IOScholarships online:

Facebook | YouTube | X | LinkedIn | Instagram


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