First-generation college students from SUNY Oswego are benefiting from the Marano Scholarship
By Melissa Stefanec
First-generation college students face obstacles that many other college students don’t. Navigating applications and financial aid, registering for courses and finding a way to finance an education can be especially challenging for students whose parents and adult acquaintances aren’t familiar with navigating a college education. Having a guiding voice throughout the college admissions and enrollment processes is a luxury many first-generation college students don’t have.
As of the fall 2017 semester, the financial aspect of all that navigating got a little easier for first-generation college students at SUNY Oswego. All first-generation college students who meet financial-need requirements now qualify for the Marano Scholarship. The scholarship awards students $5,000 toward college expenses. There were 62 recipients of the scholarship in the inaugural class.
A scholarship is born
The scholarship was the result of a bequest of $7.5 million to SUNY Oswego from Nunzio “Nick” C. and Lorraine E. Marano, for whom the campus center facility is named. The Maranos, both now deceased, lived in the Oswego County town of Scriba. Part of Lorraine Marano’s estate plan stipulated a portion of her estate be used to establish a scholarship program for first-generation college students. Thus, a scholarship was born.
What is a first-generation college student?
According to Mary Canale, vice president for development and alumni relations at SUNY Oswego, a first-generation college student is one whose parents did not complete post-high school education. The information can be found on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The college uses this information to identify potential recipients.
According to Canale, recipients of the scholarship receive $5,000 for up to four years for undergraduate coursework, as long as they maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0. After the first year (fall 2017), which included students from all class years, students will be reviewed for scholarship eligibility when they are selected for admission. The college notifies the students if they are recipients of the scholarship. Students do not need to apply for it directly.
For those of us who haven’t had coffee yet, what is in perpetuity?
This scholarship is funded by an endowment, according to Canale. This means the returns on the investment pay for the scholarship. The principal investment amount does not change. Hence, the scholarship is funded in perpetuity or perpetually.
The inaugural event
In October 2017, all 62 recipients of the scholarship were invited to a scholar’s breakfast to honor them and the Maranos. Some of the Maranos’ close friends attended and spoke about their deceased friends. 2017 had a very large number of scholars because students from all class years were considered, regardless of their college admission date.
The importance of this scholarship
Even after scholarships and student aid, many students find themselves having to take student loans or additional jobs to cover the remaining costs of college. Currently, the cost of a year (spring and fall semesters) of full-time undergraduate classes is around $21,000. This scholarship offsets some of the costs that are often obstacles or barriers to first-generation college students accessing higher education.
“These students often face unique challenges, and we hope these scholarships will ease their financial burden so they can focus more of their energy on school work and campus activities,” said Canale.