The Wenatchee Valley College (WVC) Foundation has doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship money.

In a press release on Wednesday, the WVC Foundation heralded an important and touching milestone. This academic year the foundation gave away $714,000 to a vast cross-section of the community: recent high school grads, working parents, etc. (Like most two-year institutions, WVC caters largely to "non-traditional" students. Those who matriculate at the school are more likely than not to be over 21.)

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The foundation's previous record for most money allotted in a given school year was $663,000. Seen in this light, $714,000 is an especially eye-watering sum.

According to the press release, nearly half of scholarship recipients were first-generation college students. Among first-gen undergraduates, retention and completion rates are soberingly low. The WVC Foundation wants to help these students defy the odds, long as they may be.

Scholarship recipients were awarded an average of $2,400 this year. Bear in mind that scholarship money, like grant money, does not have to be repaid.

Charity is an imperfect solution to material hardship because it can be withheld at any time; the benefactor has near-total discretion. But there's little doubt the WVC Foundation is helping students.

According to a young woman quoted in the press release, "The flexibility of this scholarship means I am supported in all aspects of my education."

Unfortunately this kinship with higher learning institutions is not widely felt. Nor is it  consistent with statewide trends; college enrollment in Washington has been trending downward for years. Diminishing returns and truly exorbitant costs have combined to keep many students at bay.

Final exams at WVC take place on June 12-14. Graduating students at the Wenatchee campus take the stage on June 14.

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Gallery Credit: Jacob Harrison

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