Many dream of one day going to college. For Tina Baesler, it was a dream that seemed out of reach.
“I grew up in a familty that was really poor. So they never really had a lot of money. And so, I never saved up for college,” says Tina Baseler, a student at Williston State College.
Unsure how to pay for college, Baseler was uncertain if she would be able to attend. Until she learned of a regional scholarship that made her dream a reality.
“It feels nice that I finally reached something that actually none of my family members could do. Because I’m the first one in my family that’s actually gone to college,” says Baseler.
Baseler’s tuition and fees are paid for through a regional scholarship offered by the college. Williston State offers a Williams County scholarship, a regional scholarship, and a new Academic Achievement Award that was introduced this year. It will be available for students from Western North Dakota and Eastern Montana who have demonstrated academic excellence.
“It’s just a great deal for these students to come out of WSC with very little or no doubt, which is a very big issue nationally,” says Terry Olson, executive director of the Williston State College Foundation.
According to the Urban Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, a greater percentage of North Dakota residents have student loan debt when compared to the national average. And the median student loan amount is cmparable to the national average at more than $16,000.
And for those who already have student loans, the Bank of North Dakota offers refinancing options.
“There’s a lot of benefits to it. And the biggest one is by lowering your interest rate and putting all your loans together, you’ve got the ability to save money in a number of different ways,” says Tom Ternes, education market manager with the Bank of North Dakota (BND).
According to Ternes, more than 11,000 state residents have refinanced their student loans with BND since the program became available four years ago. The bank offers both a fixed and variable rate option for those who have been state residents for at least six months.
In her second semester at Williston State College, Baseler is now looking ahead.
“Better my education so I can get a good paying job so my children in the future can have a great life,” says Baseler of her future goals.
And now she knows that however seemingly out of reach, she has the potential to make her dreams come true.
If interested in applying for a scholarship at Williston State College, the deadline is May 1.