American Cancer Society program assists college students

College students, or anybody who aspires to become a college student, usually can use a few extra bucks for tuition and other scholastic costs. For young cancer survivors, the Cancer Survivor Scholarship Program sponsored by the American Cancer Society can be one more means of adding to the collegiate kitty.

The program was designed to help young cancer patients and their families beat the financial burden cancer can bring by providing money for tuition and other college-related expenses. Scholarships are granted in increments of $2,500 per academic year with a lifetime cap of $10,000 per recipient.

Casey Reis, 23, received $6,500 in scholarships through the program. Reis, who lost her leg to bone cancer at the age of 16, will graduate in May from Nevada State College with a degree in psychology.

Reis had been living in Biloxi, Miss., and attending the University of Southern Mississippi, but moved to Nevada more than a year ago in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She said the cancer society’s scholarship, plus those she received from other organizations, enabled her to completely cover her college costs.

With it, she said, “I’ve been able to do what I want to do. I’ve been able to go back to school and not worry about how it’s going to be paid for.”

The program is open to both college-bound and college-enrolled students. Applicants must have been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 21, but must be 25 or younger when they submit their applications. Applicants also must be graduating from high school and/or continuing college during the upcoming school year.

Applicants also must be U.S. citizens, must be accepted unconditionally to and become full-time students at an accredited university, college, community college or vocational school, and must maintain a 2.5 grade-point average or higher.

Melissa Stemmle, quality of life manager for the American Cancer Society’s Southern Nevada office, said community service, a leadership essay and letters of recommendation also are considered in the awarding of scholarships.

However, because of limited resources, the society is not able to award scholarships to all of the cancer survivors who apply to the program.

The application deadline is April 30, and this year’s recipients will be announced in July. To request an application packet or for more information about the program, call (800) 227-2345.

Stemmle said the scholarship program is a national program, although additional local funding comes from the MGM Mirage Voice Foundation.

Individual private financial donations for the program also are accepted.

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