Think you’ve got some hefty college bills? Meet Jody Brown.
Last spring the Westport single mother prepared for Staples graduation — of her triplets. Megan, Kyle and Tyler DeBussey were ready to enter college this fall.
Tuition costs — over $300,000 for 4 years — kept her up at night. The Barron’s guide, she says, made her sick.
All 3 of her kids had gone through Westport schools, from kindergarten through 12 grade. None had ever requested financial assistance. But each took on the task of filling out financial aid applications — including applying for Staples Tuition Grants.
Since 1943, the program has provided assistance to Staples seniors — and graduates still in college. Some are students like the DeBusseys (though triplets are a 1st). Others live in homes where 1 — or both — parents are seriously ill, or out of work.
Staples Tuition Grants is the largest single donor of financial aid in Westport. Last year the organization handed out $198,000 — 24 grants to seniors, 53 to alums. Awards range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, and are based solely on need.
Last year also saw a 35% increase in applications. Many came from graduates who had not needed aid as seniors, but because of changed family circumstances or college funding cutbacks, suddenly did.
The DeBusseys all qualified. Tyler is at the University of Wisconsin; Kyle attends the University of South Carolina, while Megan is at the University of Hartford.
Along with additional scholarships for academics and sports achievements — plus personal loans and campus jobs — all 3 are thriving.
This June Staples Tuition Grants hopes to award $200,000 to a new crop of seniors, and some familiar grads. As always, the committee relies on contributions from individuals, PTAs, civic organizations, local businesses and trusts.
But so far they’ve raised only half their goal. It’s time to step up for our own. Contributions may be made here, or by mail: Staples Tuition Grants, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881.
(The deadline for students to apply for aid is March 15. Applications are available here.)