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By Donna Lane

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The costs for higher education have increased dramatically over the past decade. According to Scholarship America’s 2013 annual report, the cumulative student loan debt stood at $1 trillion in 2013, exceeding both total credit card debt and auto loan debt. While education costs rose, family incomes fell over the same period, leaving students and parents concerned about how they will be able to afford tuition, books and other education expenses. Help is available!
The Norwood Scholarship Foundation (NSF) Dollars for Scholars is a program whose sole purpose is to assist and encourage residents of Norwood to obtain “post-secondary cultural, vocational or professional education.” Since its inception in 1985, the organization has awarded in excess of $1,350,000 to over 1,140 students from Norwood. In 1986, NSF affiliated with Scholarship America’s Dollars for Scholars, a national network of nearly 700 local, grassroots chapters providing scholarships in their communities. Each affiliate has the flexibility to develop its scholarship award guidelines based on what is needed by students within their community.
According to Marion Sullivan, secretary of NSF’s Dollars for Scholars, administration of the NSF chapter is unique in that it is performed by an all volunteer, 28-member board. There are no administrative expenses, no salaries, and no rent or utilities, so all contributions go into the scholarship fund.
This year, $52,500 was awarded to 40 students via 73 scholarships. The scholarships are funded by income from invested funds, contributions, bequests and endowments from individuals, organizations and businesses. The funds from these sources provide an investment pool from which the scholarships are awarded.
Awards are recommended to the NSF’s Board of Directors by a scholarship committee on the basis of scholastic excellence, merit and need. Scholarships range from $250 to $2500; most are a minimum of $1,000. To be considered, students must create an application profile. Once the profile is complete, students are eligible for not only NSF Dollars for Scholars scholarships, but also those from Scholarship America’s partners across the United States. Applications for next year are due by April 1, 2015.
New scholarships are often created in memory of loved ones. This year, the Katie L. Brannelly Memorial Scholarship was established by Tom and Valerie Brannelly in honor of their daughter Katie, who was tragically struck by a motor vehicle on March 8, 2012 while she and two friends were crossing Washington Street in Norwood Center. For 15 months, Katie fought for her life, but unfortunately succumbed to her injuries on June 11, 2013.
Katie’s family still grieves for her loss.
“She was a beautiful, intelligent and talented girl with a huge heart and a smile that would light up a room,” her dad Tom said. “Her vibrant spirit brought much happiness to everyone she touched.” He continued with obvious emotion, “Katie accomplished a great deal in her too-short life. She was an honor student and six weeks short of graduation at Bridgewater State University where she was studying child psychology. Katie loved kids – and they loved her back. She worked three jobs, had a close network of friends, a deep and enduring bond with her family and a genuine love for her fellow man that was evident to all who knew her.”
The Brannelly’s say that Katie’s memory will be honored through this $1,000 yearly scholarship. The parameters for becoming a recipient are that it should go to a female who will further her education in the area of child psychology. The first recipient of the Katie L. Brannelly Memorial Scholarship for 2014 is Marguerite Lee.
Donna Lane is a Norwood-based writer, lecturer and designer. You can reach her at [email protected].

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