The declining economy and competitive job market has given rise to added focus on educational background. However, furthered-education costs coupled with those struggling to pay for college has also given rise to financial aid debt in terms of schooling. One way to decrease the amount owed in student loans is to qualify for a scholarship. Scholarships offer money towards tuition, books and even school supplies without the pressures of having to pay back any loans. Three local scholarships that recur annually are doing their part to help those in the Chicago area.

National Merit Scholarship Corporation
1560 Sherman Ave., Suite 200
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 866-5100

The National Merit Scholarship Program offers three types of scholarships: National Merit $2,500 Scholarship, Corporate-Sponsored Merit Scholarship Award and the College-Sponsored Merit Scholarship Award. To participate in this program, high school students must be U.S. citizens and take the PSAT/NMSQT exam no later than their junior year of high school. Around 1.5 million students take this initial exam and an estimated 50,000 with the highest index scores qualify for recognition by the program. The number is whittled down to 15,000 semifinalists with approximately 8,300 finalists receiving Merit Scholarship Awards. The National Merit $2,500 Scholarship is a single-payment, annual scholarship that is awarded on a state representational basis. Winners are selected regardless of whether they choose to attend a private or public university. The website states, “Since its founding, NMSC has recognized 2.9 million students and provided over 377,000 scholarships worth about $1.5 billion.”

Protiviti CommUnity Scholarship Program
101 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 1400
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 476-6050

Protiviti is a global consulting firm with over 70 offices all over the world. It has worked with Fortune 1000 companies, as well as Global 500 companies. However, it is unlike other finance-based global companies in that it encourages philanthropic endeavors as a whole and through its employees. One of the many examples of Protiviti’s charitable programs is its CommUnity Scholarship Program which is funded by donations from Protiviti employees. This annual scholarship is for $5,000 and awardees are eligible for renewing the scholarships based on GPA requirements. Awardees are based on GPAs, extracurricular activities, community involvement and interviews with Protiviti employees. In September 2012, it was announced that two of the recipients of the Protiviti CommUnity Scholarship were Ace Tech Charter High School students of Chicago, Ruben Estrada and Alyssa Ford. PR News states, “Launched in April 2005, Protiviti’s CommUnity Scholarship Program supports economically challenged Chicago students to have the spirit and aptitude to achieve their goal of attending college.”

Chicago Scholars Program
55 E. Jackson Blvd., Suite 1010
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 784-3300

The website states, “The Chicago Scholars Program assists talented but under-resourced high school students overcome barriers to collegiate access and success. We offer five years of seminars, workshops and mentoring to help low-income and first generation college students apply to and be accepted by colleges, graduate in four years and smoothly transition into their post-collegiate lives.” Requirements include being a junior in a high school in Chicago, U.S. resident, GPA of 3.0 or higher and a PLAN or ACT score of at least 19. Applicants are reviewed and interviewed, with winners receiving renewable scholarships of $1,250 per year. However, the financial aspect of the program is only one feature of this scholarship. Chicago Scholars Program offers transitional services to help receivers go on to succeed in their post-collegiate lives. The Chicago Scholars Fellowship is a one-year internship for a recent college graduate in the public relations field to provide skills and work experience to go on to the next phase of a professional career after college.

Sara Lugardo is a Korean American who thrives in writing about Asian community news in Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on

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