RCCF Scholarship Funds: Facts, Tips, and Tricks

Once the traditional holiday season passes, the Rush County Community Foundation is quick to welcome our own “season” in February, affectionately referred to as “Scholarship Season” by those close to the Foundation.  Each year, between February and May, the Rush County Community Foundation receives hundreds of applications from local students for a chance at an award from our 72 scholarship funds.  Our staff works with our generous donors and dedicated volunteers throughout the months of March and April to evaluate applications in accordance to each scholarship fund’s requirements, and we celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of our donors, volunteers, staff, school systems, students, and families in May when we present the awards.


Our scholarships are made possible because of donors.  The Foundation is home to 72 endowment funds established by various donors desiring to financially assist students pursuing a post-secondary education.  These funds have been created for a variety of reasons:  to honor a profession, to memorialize a loved one, to expand funding for students pursuing a specific degree, or to pay tribute to an institution or field of study.  Scholarship funds pay an annual disbursement to support the criteria established by the donors who created the fund.  Students that best meet the criteria are selected as recipients of the scholarship fund.


Once scholarship funds are available, students must apply to be considered for the award.  The Foundation has a general application and then a more specific “cover page” detailing the eligibility for each scholarship fund based on provisions established in the fund documents.  Once our application period concludes, volunteers, and sometimes, donors, meet to evaluate each candidate’s qualifications.  While each scholarship fund is unique and has its own rubric and scoring metrics, we thought it might be helpful to provide some general tips for students hoping to apply:


  • Read and reread the instructions and forms closely. There are often details that get overlooked and depending on the evaluator, missing an instruction can harm your chances of being selected. Evaluators notice and appreciate when things are done correctly.


  • When asked to list activities etc. be as thorough as possible!  Most of the time the application is the only window into a student’s relative merits for a scholarship. This is no time to be humble! Build your case for why you should be the one to receive the funding by listing every activity you have done. The scholarship selection committees want to know about all the wonderful things you do and will only know if you include them.


  • If you have the time, take your time. Sometimes it takes a while to remember all the activities you have done in the past year, 4-years, 8-years… Work on the application. Let it sit for a day or a week, and then work on it again. This is a great way to catch instructions you may have missed, and gives your brain a chance to remember some of the awesome things you’ve done that you might have forgotten to include the first time through.


  • On the other hand – just do it! If you are a perfectionist and want to make sure every detail is precisely correct and you aren’t really sure if you should actually include that time you volunteered at the animal shelter because it was only for two hours… Include it!  If you did it, include it. Additionally, you can only be considered for a scholarship if you turn in the application; if you run out of time to do as thorough of a job as you would like to, TURN IT IN ANYWAY. And be proud of yourself, applications are a lot of work! You can only be considered for scholarships you apply to, so a mediocre, yet complete, application that is turned in is infinitely better than a really good application that misses the deadline.


  • Save a copy of your work. You will probably want to apply for other scholarships, this year, or in the years to come. Saving your work will make it easier to fill out future applications.


  • Be encouraged: Some of the RCCF scholarships look for students who have a 3.0, not a 4.0, a 3.0. Others heavily weigh financial need. Others don’t look at financial need at all. These differences are true across the board; you never know what is going to make your application stand out above the rest. Genuinely and thoroughly represent yourself so whether or not you receive a scholarship, you can be proud of the body of work recorded in your application.


  • Don’t give up!  If you don’t receive a scholarship your senior year, don’t let that deter you from applying when you are in college.  We have scholarships that assist college students exclusively and specific career paths, therefore your application and competition may be evaluated completely differently than it was the first, or second, time around.


Since the first scholarship was awarded in 1995, the Rush County Community Foundation has disbursed $1.3 million in local scholarship funds and $3 million in Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship funding.  It’s difficult to identify the exact number of students that have benefitted, but it’s easy to say that hundreds, if not thousands, of Rush County students with a range of goals and backgrounds have received assistance funding their higher education because of the generosity of many donors and the countless hours of time from staff and volunteers throughout these hectic months.  The Rush County Community Foundation is PROUD of our impact on local students, and appreciates the community’s ongoing support to make the impact greater each year.


In order to be considered among the Foundation’s scholarship recipients, you must apply!  Application deadlines are quickly approaching on February 15th!  For additional information and to apply for scholarship funds, visit our website at www.rushcountyfoundation.org, our office at 117 N. Main St., or call (765) 938-1177.

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