CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Seniors attending a public school in the Charleston County School District can begin submitting applications next month for a new college scholarship.
Meeting Street Schools Founder Ben Navarro, and his wife Kelly Navarro, are providing millions of dollars in need-based academic scholarships for students with a strong academic record.
The Meeting Street Fund will award scholarship recipients up to $10,000 per year for a total of $40,000 over four years. The only stipulation is that it must be used to pay for tuition at a college or university in South Carolina.
“First and foremost, for Charleston, any kid who graduates from a public high school will no longer have to say I wanted to go to ‘x’ school but, I couldn’t because of financial issues,” Ben Navarro said.
Students must meet the following criteria to qualify:
- Graduate from a public high school in the Charleston County School District
- Earn either the LIFE or Palmetto Fellows state-provided scholarship
- Qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, which provides assistance to families with limited means to pay for college
- Gain acceptance to a four-year South Carolina college or university with a six-year graduation rate of 50% or higher
- Continue each year at that university in good academic standing
The Navarros say there’s no limit on the number of students who can receive it each year.
“You meet that criteria you’re good to go,” Ben Navarro said.
Navarro had his first job at 13 and he says he knows what’s it’s like to be uncertain about how to pay for college.
“In this country, particularly in the 21st century, if you don’t have a decently solid education, it’s very, very difficult to find your path and so for me it all starts with kids finding their path,” Navarro said. “That’s where educational opportunity comes in.”
The Navarros say they hope the scholarship will inspire and change behaviors among students to pursue a college degree.
“Maybe they were going to school, but dropped out because they couldn’t afford it, or maybe chose a two-year school or chose not to go to college at all,” Navarro said.
The scholarship fund is expected to support 500 students by 2024, and Navarro says it will provide about $5 million in scholarships annually. His hope is that more students over time will meet the qualifications.
“I’m hoping that we provide an example in South Carolina and the rest of the country to say look this is possible,” Navarro said. “People like me who have been blessed for the kind of success that I’ve had in business, it is actually possible to do this yourself or organize this kind of effort. There should be no reason that any child who qualifies from an educational perspective, shouldn’t be able to afford going to some of our great colleges and universities in this country. "
The scholarship applications will open on Feb. 25, but more information about the scholarship can be found on the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund website.