In 2018, Americans had a whopping $1.56 trillion in student loan debt, according to Federal Reserve statistics.
But the Fund for Public Education is trying to ensure that Jackson Hole students are saddled with as little of that debt as possible. In partnership with Jackson Hole High School and the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, the nonprofit is administering the Teton County Scholarship Fund.
The scholarship fund features more than 80 awards totaling over $800,000 given annually, according to the education nonprofit’s website. Businesses and members of the community can give awards under the auspices of the program, which the Fund for Public Education is running for the first time.
“It fits well with what we do,” Executive Director Jennifer Jellen said. “This program is about creating equitable opportunities for students to move forward in life in a positive and healthy way.”
Jellen said four new scholarships widen the type of awards that will be given this year. Because people can dictate the terms for their awards, they can be quite specific.
One of the new ones is the Dunlap Construction scholarship, which gives $1,500 to a student looking to enter the building trades. It can be used for studies or trade school such as at the University of Wyoming’s construction management program. Students can receive the award for up to four years.
Two other new subject-specific awards are for students looking to enter health care and for students going into earth sciences.
The health care award is for $1,000 and can be extended past the first year.
The earth sciences awards, given by the Geologists of Jackson Hole, are for $2,000 and will be given to up to four students. Winners of that award can apply directly to Geologists of Jackson Hole for subsequent awards.
The fourth new scholarship is $1,000 for a student who is the first in their immediate family to go to college. It joins a similar award from the Community Foundation that also targets that population of students.
Applications for all Fund for Public Education scholarships can be found online at FundForPublicEducation.org. Awards are open to graduating seniors from any high school in Teton County, including home-schooled students.
The deadline to submit applications is Wednesday.
This article has been updated to show that the deadline for applications is Wednesday, Feb. 19. — Ed.