Local residents hoping to enroll at Cerro Coso Community College in Bishop have an opportunity to catch a full ride this year.
Now in its 17th year, the Eastern Sierra Foundation is preparing to offer scholarships designed to ease the burden of obtaining a college education.
The Eastern Sierra Foundation Scholarship is available to any Inyo County, Chalfant or Benton resident who has lived in California for at least a year. The Foundation will pay full tuition and up to $300 for textbooks for eligible students planning to attend Cerro Coso full-time (12 units or more per semester).
The Eastern Sierra Foundation was formed in 1994 with the goal of helping Cerro Coso construct a new, larger facility in the Bishop area. The Foundation has awarded more than 600 scholarships to local students since Cerro Coso’s Bishop campus opened in 2003 at its location at State Route 168 and Ed Powers Road.
Because the nonprofit Foundation is operated through an all-volunteer staff, “virtually all of your donation goes directly to students’ academic costs,” a press release from the organization states.
Foundation Board Member Jeff Griffiths said there are no age restrictions for the scholarship, adding that “many of the recipients for the Bishop campus are not right out of high school.”
Many scholarship recipients and other students at Cerro Coso are older residents seeking to further their education. Griffiths said some are looking for new career paths, and others hope to open more doors on their current path.
Each semester the Foundation receives approximately 60 applications for the scholarships, and Griffiths said just about everyone who has been a resident for a year and gets their application in on time receives full funding for classes.
“As long as you meet the requirements and get your paperwork in, you can get a scholarship,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths said there are some concerns about funding for the Foundation. Nevada is terminating its good neighbor policy, which means local students planning to go to college across the state border will have to begin paying out-of-state tuition, and tuition fees in the U.S. systems continue to rise.
Griffiths said, with prices going up for four-year school tuition, the Foundation is expecting to see more local graduates enrolling in community college.
In addition to donations from community members, the Eastern Sierra Foundation utilizes funds from the Donald Slager Sunset Foundation and Pillsbury Foundation for scholarships.
“I would encourage people to donate to the Foundation because no other county in California offers free tuition for college,” Griffiths said. “But we need donations to keep up with the costs.”
The Foundation has begun work on a memorial pathway at Cerro Coso’s Bishop campus to recognize residents who have contributed substantial funds to the scholarship program.
Those who would like to donate to the Eastern Sierra Foundation are encouraged to call Griffiths at (760) 937-0072 or Rick Litman at (760) 873-6270 or visit www.easternsierrafoundation.org.
Those who are interested in applying for a scholarship are asked to contact Greg Kost at (760) 872-5316 or gkost@cerrocoso.edu.