For the past four years, Nevada senior Jade Keehn has sought scholarship support so that she may graduate in May debt-free.
“My principal goal is not to go into debt, so I make a serious effort every year to apply for scholarships,” Keehn says. “I also studied abroad and paid for it through scholarships, and have received grants for my undergraduate research.”
Today, students are shouldering more of the cost of higher education. According to the University’s director of financial aid and scholarships, Tim Wolfe, students at Nevada took out student loans totaling $62.2 million for the current school year, up from $56.1 last year—an 11 percent increase in just one year.
“We endeavor to provide as much student financial aid as possible,” Wolfe says. “In fact, our students receive $8,500 a year on average, and 70 percent of our total student population receives some kind of financial aid.
” Keehn, a Class of 2012 wildlife ecology and conservation major, is a recipient of the Randall Scholarship, a four-year scholarship for conservation biology, natural resources management or range management majors at the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. The scholarship was established by alumnus Frank Randall ’56 (business administration) and his wife, Joan, to benefit students who value the preservation of open space.
“Not only did the Randall Scholarship make college possible for me, but the scholarship also came from a family that was strongly rooted in conservation,”
Keehn says. “The Randalls wanted to do their part to create a new generation of conservation-oriented students and professionals, and I was happy to be one of them.” Keehn credits scholarship support at Nevada for paving the way to graduation. In addition to helping her father support the family with rent and bills when she is able, Keehn pays for her own car insurance, gas, food, clothing and all costs associated with school.
“Before I could even begin the challenge of college-level classes, I had to face the roadblock of college tuition—a fearsome opponent for a would-be first generation college student with parents who were not able to set aside money for a college fund,” Keehn says. “Since the start of high school, I have forced myself to stay on top of my responsibilities, taking on full-time and part-time jobs in addition to doing well in school so that I would be able to pay for college tuition and expenses.”
Her hard work has paid off. In addition to her four-year Randall Scholarship and the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship, Keehn received a National Smart Grant for students in the sciences; the Gilman International Scholarship; the Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Scholarship; the Honors Study Abroad Scholarship; the Honors Undergraduate Research Award and the Nevada Association of Conservation Districts Scholarship; among others.
“Scholarships help me pay for tuition so that I can focus on my school work instead of my weekend job, allowing me to perform in my classes to my full potential,” Keehn says. “By graduating debt free, I can jump right into internships and career prospects without having to sacrifice opportunities for the sake of finance.”