Valley students find ways to finance college in bad economy

Seniors across the Rio Grande Valley have completed a big milestone in their life, but for many who plan to continue their education, funding is a major concern.

Some McAllen teens made sure they did everything possible during high school to get the help in college they're going to need.

Hannah Arguelles aspires to be on Broadway, but first she needs to study her craft.

She's one of the Valley graduates that will get scholarships to go to the university of her choice.

"I'm going to go to Oklahoma City University where I will be double majoring in music and theatre.

Olivia Perez is another scholarship recipient.

"I'm one of the lucky few that actually managed to get a full ride," said Perez.

But it's anything but luck that has gotten these students to this point in their life.

"I hadn't gotten a B since I was 11, so pretty much straight A's and not even just normal A's," she said.

Getting exceptional grades, being involved in the community and applying for scholarships was all part of their high school careers like many who received scholarships this year.

Maryiel Garcia, the college admissions specialist at Rowe High School in McAllen said grant funding is low and now more than ever students need to focus more on getting scholarships.

"Any student that comes back with an EFC of 0, which is the estimated family contribution, they typically are awarded grant money," she said, but for the first time this year, Garcia said she's seen some of thes students not offered grants.

She said if it weren't for scholarships, many graduates would have to resort to paying out of pocket or would have to get loans.

"Without receiving these scholarships, it would have been hard for me to go anywhere because both my parents are educators and my financial aid wouldn't have been that much or isn't that much," said Arguelles.

Garcia said she hopes aspiring college students keep in mind the importance of applying for scholarships in this dwindling economy.

Students can start preparing for college early applying for scholarships in their freshman year of high school.

Just ask your school counselors for information.