JOHN DAY - Grant Union High School offers counseling assistance through a program called ASPIRE - Access to Student assistance Programs In Reach of Everyone - which helps students who intend to further their education at college.

Ann Ganong, an AmeriCorps volunteer working at Grant Union, has access to all types of colleges and vocational/technical schools and funding sources. Financial aid application forms also are readily available.

"There are so many ways to get money for college," she optimistically said. The Oregon Student Assistance Commission scholarship packets alone list approximately 220 scholarship options for graduating seniors or current college students.

Through the ASPIRE program, Ganong also recruits parents or community members to lend support to high school students. Training is provided to adult volunteers by focusing on students' goals and career choices, financial aid, scholarship and admissions applications. Since November, several volunteers have come forward, but she said she can always use more since many students are looking forward to colleges in Oregon and beyond.

Ganong regrets that her reach is not funded beyond Grant Union into rural Grant County, but is hopeful that perhaps next year could be funded to reach outlying areas. Grants from the Oregon Student Assistance Commission, Oregon Community Foundation, AmeriCorps and the Ford Family Foundation provide funding for the Aspire program.

The ASPIRE program is managed by the OSAC's Grants & Scholarship Division, which administers more than 250 scholarships totaling more then $9 million and delivers more than $20 million of state funds to needy students through the Oregon Opportunity Grant. Over 220,000 students are enrolled in authorized degree programs in Oregon colleges and universities and each year more than 20,000 more students will begin postsecondary education. In the past year, OSAC helped over 50,000 Oregon students work toward their educational goals. For more information, call 1-800-452-8807 or access www.osac.state.or.us.

For more information about the local ASPIRE program, call Ganong at 575-1799.

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