Alicia Saunders, the scholarship coordinator with the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri, goes online to cfnwmo.org, where students can apply for scholarships from Jan. 15 to March 1.

Paying for higher education can be an expensive proposition, which is why a local organization is helping to ease the burden.

Last year, 139 students across 25 high schools received scholarships from the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri. As some students prepare for their final year in high school, they can apply for scholarships through the foundation from January to March 2020.

The organization’s scholarship coordinator, Alicia Saunders, said the scholarships offered through the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri cover a variety of counties, from Buchanan to Atchison and even as far east as Putnam. As a result, students received $128,000 altogether this past school year.

“We have so many students applying, and I think that as the cost of education goes up each year — whether it’s a vocational technical school, community college or a university — I think it’s just sad to see parents and students go into so much debt,” Saunders said. “So if they can find ways to help put some money toward that education to reduce that debt, I think that’s great.”

Scholarships can be from an individual or even created in honor of someone through the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri. While the donor may set the criteria — be it high marks or interest in a particular major — the foundation handles the administrative aspects. Businesses may also host scholarship opportunities.

Currently, the foundation has scholarships available for students planning to attend a two-year or four-year college, a university or vocational technical school. And while many of the scholarships are for seniors preparing for graduation, there also are some for current college students.

“I would say the majority are one-time scholarships … but some are renewable for four years,” Saunders said. “As the student continues through their sophomore, junior or senior year if they maintain the grades or whatever the criteria may be, then they can renew that scholarship.”

Interested parties can apply on cfnwmo.org and use the ScholarLink link to apply for scholarships through the foundation from Jan. 15 to March 1. Scholarship donors and a selection committee will select their recipients and notify them in May 2020.

Daniel Cobb can be reached at daniel.cobb@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowCobb.