As a college student it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. Studying for exams, finding internships, social life, and even working a part-time job can weigh heavily on every young person. On top of those responsibilities, many students have to take out loans depending on the level of schooling they are pursuing. Degrees in the medical field can easily cost over $100,000 once graduate school is completed. When looking for funds, the competition can be intensive and the funds limited for those who don’t know where precisely to look.
Unknown to many students, The Fellows Memorial fund located on the Pensacola campus provides scholarship loans for students, who are also residents of the Escambia, Walton, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties, pursuing approved medical degrees as well as approved theology degrees. Loan amounts may equal up to $100,000 and students who return to the Pensacola area and surrounding counties may be granted loan forgiveness at the discretion of the Fund’s Board of Trustees.
“The Fellows Memorial Fund is a private loan created in 1961 under the will of the late Mrs. Earle W Fellows-Williamson, widow of the beloved Pensacola physician, Dr. J. Hugh Fellows,” Fellows Memorial Fund Assistant, Virginia Santoni, said. “They wanted to help students reach their goal of helping others. It was their hope that graduates of health-related or theology programs would return to the Northwest Florida community and practice their profession. Since I began working with the program in 1982, over 200 students have received funds to complete their educations. [But] many more have been helped since the inception of the program in 1961.”
Besides residence eligibility, the students applying for a scholarship loan must be accepted or already training at the accredited institution from which they will receive their degree in one of the specified areas of study. Scholarship loan amounts are not to exceed $100,000 and must be paid back within 11 years.
“Once I have determined that a student meets the eligibility criteria, I provide the student with the application packet. They must complete the loan application packet and submit the additional required documentation,” Santoni said. “My role is to pre-screen the application and supporting materials. Once I have a complete packet, it is then reviewed by the consultant. At that time, the consultant makes the final determination as to the approval of the loan and the actual loan amount. I notify the student regarding their loan status and additional paperwork is prepared regarding disbursement of the loan funds.”
Dr. Ed Meadows, as college president, now serves as the consultant for the Board of Trustees.
“My responsibility as a consultant is to go to their board meetings and provide them with information on how to market their program, how to advertise the program, how to recruit for the program, and we’ve established the website since we’ve began and set up a budget for recruitment and marketing,” he said.
Meadows said the fund is wide-reaching;. there are students studying nursing at Pensacola State as well as students in the University of Florida medical school program.
“Whenever there’s an issue of access for people pursuing their medical degrees and goals, part of that issue is always finances,” Meadows said. “It falls within the philosophy of our college to help any student receive access to achieve their educational goals.”
The goal of the fund is to provide enrichment to the culture of Pensacola, along with offering young people the chance to make something of themselves so they can give back to Pensacola and the surrounding area.
“The most rewarding part of my job is being able to assist someone who would be otherwise unable to continue their education without financial assistance,” Santoni said. “The Trustees would like to see our recipients return to the area and give back – not only to their profession, but to the community.”
Students who would like to learn more can visit www.fellowsfund.org or contact Virginia Santoni directly via telephone at (850)471-4546.