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A million and two reasons why applying for scholarships is easier

Kylie Sweere has a million-dollar smile. The 2015 Hilbert High School graduate went on to the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh to study English and marketing, with help from a $3,000 scholarship from the Violet and Ruben Laack Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship is a memorial to the late Violet and Ruben Laack. They both knew something about having a work ethic and Kylie is hoping to learn about that as well as about marketing. Ruben ran a cheese factory in Calumet County and worker there into his 70s. Violet was a teacher and forensics coach at several Calumet County schools, and continued to be a substitute teacher into her 80s. The Laacks’ estate gift of $1.2 million to the Chilton Area Community Foundation will fund ongoing scholarships at six Calumet County public high schools.

This year’s graduates at 60 area schools have an opportunity to get a share of $1 million in scholarships being offered through Community Foundation charitable funds. The scholarships helped 314 students in 2016.

Scholarship applicants can go to, find their school on the drop-down list and generate a list of scholarships available for students at that school. Some are tied to financial need or academic performance, but many are not. Some target very specific fields of study or high school experiences, improving the odds for students who fit the criteria.

Most applications are due March 1. Many require that a federal student aid form called the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Two changes for the 2017-18 FAFSA make applying even easier:

  • Students are now able to submit a FAFSA earlier.  Students have been able to file a 2017–18 FAFSA since Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date is a permanent change, enabling students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as Oct. 1 every year. (There is NO CHANGE to the 2016–17 schedule. The FAFSA became available Jan. 1 as in previous years.)
  • Students now report earlier income information. Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students are required to report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) must report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information.

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