For over sixty years, the Southern Scholarship Foundation (SSF) has helped more than 8,600 students with outstanding academic ability, good character and financial need to realize their dreams of attending college. Scholarships are awarded to qualified students in the form of rent-free housing in one of 27 scholarship houses that are on or near their college campus at six Florida college and university campuses. Each scholarship house is home to 17-31 students representing a variety of backgrounds and cultures.
Living in this community-style environment, the scholarship students share the duties and responsibilities of running a household. A House Manager works with elected officers to ensure that the daily operations run smoothly. Residents establish a budget, plan and shop for meals, cook, clean, and study together, gaining valuable life skills while fostering lifelong friendships. Most of the students also work part-time jobs while maintaining their high academic requirements.
The average cost for room and board on a Florida college campus is $12,000 per year. Through the SSF program, the average cost to the student is approximately $950 per semester, which is pooled to cover food and utilities for the house. This savings for the student is provided by Southern Scholarship Foundation via rent-free scholarship housing. Because of this, SSF is able to assist its 470 residents and their families realize an overall economic impact and savings of $5.6M per year in direct living expenses.
While residing in the SSF scholarship houses, the sponsored students will receive an Education for Life. These students will not only learn valuable skills from their community living environment but will additionally be given access to numerous programs and resources aimed at helping them grow both as students and as community leaders. These programs and resources include: study skills workshops, fiscal responsibility workshops, budgeting seminars, leadership training, and conflict resolution workshops. Furthermore, SSF students who want to hone their leadership skills and increase their access within their local communities are given the opportunity to enter the SSF Ambassador program. This program provides them with hands-on experience in community outreach, mentoring, and leadership.
The intended outcomes of this program are to ensure academic success for SSF residents and enhance their Education for Life. In order to ensure academic success, SSF monitors grades throughout the year and provides one-on-one counseling and resources to students who are struggling to maintain a 3.0 grade point average. These resources include time management training and study skills training. The two SSF Directors of Student Affairs monitor the community living environment. Through community living, the students learn to become leaders, how to work as a member of a team, and how to communicate effectively with individuals from a diverse background.
SSF provides an “at-home” atmosphere to help make the transition to college more enjoyable. There will always be someone to say hello and ask you how your day has been, or someone to go to the movies with. SSF provides various activities and socials to help not only the students within each house get to know each other, but the students from all of our campuses become a family. Each house elects a resident to specifically help plan in-house socials as well as socials with other houses. Our residents have hosted movie nights, gone to the beach, hiked canyons, and have even been on camping trips!
Simply put, Southern Scholarship Foundation breaks the cycle of poverty by putting a college diploma in reach for academically successful, financially needy students and is proud to graduate approximately 100 students a year.
For more information on the foundation and its scholarship programs, please visit http://www.southernscholarship.org/.