Making Your Mark: Help paying for college

Making Your Mark: Graduate teaches money saving lessons

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) -- College is full of great times: the parties, the football games, the classes in pursuit of higher knowledge.

But you'll pay for it.

"Getting those tuition bills from the school can be real daunting when you first get them," said Lorraine SantaLucia.

She was fortunate enough to graduate from VCU in Richmond debt-free. And she's made it her mission to help other Virginia students and families know the secrets of that financial success. She started a non-profit business called "Scholarship Sharing".

"Scholarship Sharing has kind of become my passion to be able to help other people go through college," Lorraine said. "I remember the struggles of what it was like, the raman noodles every night now I help students to get resources for scholarships and other aid programs because it's what I love doing."

Lorraine says the secret is seeking scholarships. Sure, everyone knows about scholarships, but Lorraine says people don't know about all of them available. Her Scholarship Sharing digs for those scholarship opportunities you may not even begin to imagine exist.

"There are scholarships for what hair color you have, for playing Quidditch, for being left-handed," Lorraine said. "We host webinars every month, we have a scholarship database."

"I'll help a student to find resources through our website," she said. "A lot of non profits, they post their information to our page and they let students know they haven't gotten a lot of applications. Many scholarships go unclaimed because they don't have students applying for them."

One of the students Lorraine was able to help was her younger sister Nicole. She's a proud Virginia Tech Hokie thanks to the work Lorraine and Scholarship Sharing put into researching scholarships, advising her on how to tackle the application, and completing the entire process.

Nicole ended up earning a scholarship in the Gates Millennium College Scholarship Program.

"It covers basically everything for the school," Nicole said. "It covers tuition, housing, it covers food expenses, textbooks. It's just incredible how she is able to find these scholarships and help people find thousands and thousands of dollars in aid."

Not only that, but Scholarship Sharing also hosts Scholarship Fairs. They bring together students and college representatives. The next one is in Chesapeake at Tidewater Community College on September 26 and 27. Tickets are required.

Lorraine says close to 3,000 people are expected.

This isn't even her full-time day job.

"I love helping students with Scholarship programs," Lorraine said. "Getting them connected to resources makes me kind of feel like I'm making real difference in the community."

To find out more about the Scholarship Fair, click on the program website ScholarshipSharing.org.


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