Olivia Sandefur’s high school grades could have earned an acceptance letter to almost any school in the country. She chose Walters State.
“Honestly, I made the financially smart choice,” said Sandefur. While she received other financial aid offers, few were as valuable as the package she received from Walters State.
Sandefur received the Walters State Presidential Scholarship, given by the Walters State Foundation and reserved for local high school valedictorians or salutatorians. She also received the Walters State Promise, the Hope Lottery Scholarship and the Tennessee Promise. Sandefur actually had money left after paying her tuition. Those funds are paying books, gas and other expenses associated with her education.
The Walters State Foundation gives over $500,000 in scholarships each year. Most are funded through endowments created by generous donors. Some are based on merit or need. Others are reserved for students from a particular geographic area or pursuing a specific major.
The Walters State Foundation also funds the Walters State Promise. Students completing high school with an unweighted 3.7 grade point average and scoring a 24 on the ACT receive up to $1,000 a semester. High school students who complete four Walters State dual enrollment classes (12 semester hours) are also guaranteed up to $1,000 a semester when they enroll as full-time students.
“By getting two years of college free, I hope to avoid going into debt to finish my
four-year degree,” Sandefur said.
Sandefur, a business major, said she would have chosen Walters State even without the scholarships.
“Walters State is a very inviting campus,” she said. “The classes are small and you get to know your professor. People feel like family.”
Sandefur has enjoyed working in sales and marketing and may choose a career focused on those skills. She’d also like to open her own business one day. She encourages high school seniors to apply to college even if they don’t know if they can afford it.
“When I started applying to colleges, I didn’t really expect to get so much money in scholarships,” Sandefur said.
“My advice to those thinking about college is to apply. The opportunity exists.”
The Walters State Scholarship Application portal is now open. The application period ends on Feb. 1. Students can learn more at https://www.ws.edu/financial-aid/types/scholarships/ws-scholarships/. Students must first apply for admission to the college.