Paying for college just got easier. As of March 15, students can apply to attend Blue Ridge Community College for free during the 2022-23 academic year. Thanks to an anonymous $2 million donation through Blue Ridge’s Educational Foundation on March 2, the Brighter Futures free college scholarship program was continued into the summer 2022, fall 2022, and spring 2023 semesters. The unnamed gift supported Blue Ridge’s efforts to give students a clear and affordable path to a good job while lifting all financial burdens of a high quality college education. Interested students should apply via the Brighter Future scholarship page.
“Blue Ridge Community College has a long history of providing scholarships and removing barriers,” said Dr. Laura Leatherwood, president of Blue Ridge Community College. “Especially as the burden of student debt is soaring, we feel privileged that we can continue offering college-eligible students an opportunity to attend Blue Ridge tuition-free through a Brighter Future scholarship.”
Last year, during the 2021-2022 academic year, about 1,000 students pursuing more than 40 areas of study attended Blue Ridge tuition-free through Brighter Future scholarships. These scholarships offer a way for more members of the region to attain the skills and credentials they need to succeed in an increasingly fast-changing economy and labor market while at the same time building a pipeline of skilled professionals so regional businesses have the skilled workforce they need.
The Brighter Future scholarship program also has contributed to Blue Ridge defying enrollment trends that have affected community colleges nationwide. Last year, when most community colleges across the country saw their enrollment decrease by an average of 9%, Blue Ridge experienced a 9% increase in total enrollment and a 13% increase in full-time equivalents during the Fall 2021 semester. In fact, Blue Ridge experienced its highest enrollment ever for a fall semester, with the trend continuing into spring 2022. Additionally, there was a 41% increase in enrollment of adult learners.
“As an adult learner, Blue Ridge’s scholarship program has made it possible for me to attend college without financial stress while balancing so many family and work needs,” explained student Brianna Allen. “In 2023, I’ll be graduating with my associate degree in Human Services Technology, and I couldn’t be more proud and excited to get started in my new career.”
The Brighter Future scholarship — which covers tuition, fees and books — is awarded to eligible students who desire to begin or continue their education. Recipients of the Brighter Future scholarship must be a NC resident for tuition purposes.
“Even while an incredibly generous donor remains anonymous, the impact of this contribution will speak volumes as it allows us to make college more affordable and accessible for so many members of our community,” Dr. Leatherwood said.
The Brighter Future scholarship application was made available on March 15, and students are encouraged to apply now. For questions or to learn more, please visit Blue Ridge’s website or call (828) 694-1800.