This November, the Brunswick Area Student Aid Fund is holding its annual campaign to raise scholarship funds to support students in continuing their education.

The Brunswick Area Student Aid Fund’s primary mission is to award scholarships to eligible high school graduates who pursue postsecondary education at four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, career and technical education institutions, and graduate schools. The fund provides all of its scholarships on the basis of student financial need, using data obtained from the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

“Our scholarships are not awarded for merit, but for need. They will go towards the cost of two years of almost any type of postsecondary education. These range from beauty school or oil furnace technician to college graduate school,” said Harpswell resident and board member Otey Smith.

Scholarship recipients must be residents of Harpswell, Brunswick, Topsham, Bowdoin or Bowdoinham. Residents of those towns who are homeschooled or graduated from a school other than Mt. Ararat or Brunswick High may still be eligible to receive scholarship funding.

“Our scholarships are equitably distributed to the Brunswick and (Maine School Administrative District) 75 school districts. Students who are residents of these districts when they graduate from another secondary program, such as private school, may be eligible for a scholarship if they have need,” Smith said.

Adults returning to school are also encouraged to apply. Eligible applicants may receive up to two years of assistance, which need not be consecutive.

As a nonprofit, the Brunswick Area Student Aid Fund is governed by a board of directors and committee members, all of whom are volunteers and reside within the towns the fund serves.

Harpswell resident John Loyd has served on the board since 1995. “Although BASAF has an endowment, the cost of higher education is increasing at a rate well ahead of inflation. If BASAF is to continue to award meaningful scholarships in real dollars adjusted for U.S. and tuition inflation and make scholarships to more students, we need to increase the endowment,” Loyd said. “Contributions from the public are the only way we can grow the endowment to achieve those goals.”

The organization’s secondary mission is to assist K-12 students in the served communities with overcoming challenges that interfere with being a productive student, such as assistance with the cost of eyeglasses, clothing, doctors, dentists and other necessities.

The Brunswick Area Student Aid Fund was organized in the mid-1950s by a group of local individuals led by Mario Tonon, who eventually became principal at Brunswick High School and later superintendent of Brunswick schools. At its first formal meeting, the fund accepted a total of $5,700 from local contributors. Since its founding, the fund has awarded more than $10 million to upward of 5,200 graduates.

“The Brunswick Area Student Aid Fund has a long history of helping area students because so many people for so many years have cared enough to donate,” said board member Linda Kreamer, also from Harpswell. “I believe receiving support from a program funded by your neighbors has special meaning.”

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