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Florida Gateway College: Scholarships Going Unused – 2nd STEM Bldg. Not Completely Funded

student looking at library books
Photo: Andy Quezada via Unsplash | Columbia County Observer graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – During the Florida Gateway (FGC) College Budget Work Shop last Thursday (June 13), long time board member Suzanne Norris brought up the subject of scholarships at FGC.

During a discussion about the lack of state funding for the College’s second STEM building, Ms. Norris mentioned a “million-nine” funding shortfall “in that building,” and beginning a capital campaign to fund the construction.

Ms. Norris wondered out loud, “Is that worth looking at, rather than having half a building finished?”

College President Larry Barrett followed up, relaying a conversation he had with the FGC Foundation Director Lee Pinchouck (a college employee), “We may have to worry about building this thing.”

Unused Scholarships: “We’ve Got Scholarships That Go Unused”

Board member Norris throws scholarships out there.

Was Ms. Norris asking to divert scholarship money or energy into bricks and mortar? And, what was President Barrett’s response?

Ms. Norris followed up on President Barrett’s “We may have to worry about building this thing.”

Ms. Norris said,

 “That’s not to take away from our wonderful scholarships that we do, but we know we've got scholarships that go unused.”

“And so, instead of having a focus on scholarships for the next year. So, what - what would it look like if we tried to plan a capital campaign and raise money in the community to finish the STEM building outright? I just – I'm just – I don't need an answer today. I just wanted to throw it out there. Is it worth looking at it?”

President Barrett responded, “Yep, absolutely. So. So let's start working on that. We'll come up with a plan and see how doable that is.”

Unused Scholarships – What’s the Story?

After the meeting, your reporter inquired of President Barrett about the “unused” scholarships.

A look at the FGC website scholarship information is sketchy about some scholarships, lacking in specific information in many instances, has some broken links. However, some information and links are useful, particularly the additional resources section.

There is nothing about how much money is available and some of the links directing folk to other websites do not work.

According to President Barrett’s latest figures (June 17, the FGC year ends June 30), this year – FGC had available $1,593,000 in total scholarships. President Barrett’s figures include FGC Foundation scholarships and state grants.

President Barrett noted that FGC Foundation scholarships were “approximately” $800,000 per year over time; last year the college awarded $600,000 in scholarships through the Foundation. President Barrett noted that when students did not meet certain criteria the awards were withdrawn.

FGC seems to facilitate state grants. President Barrett noted the Open Door grant: “Open Door grant-$597,000 available for scholarships- awarded and spent is $487,000. The rest of the difference is expected to be spent by students by the end of summer.”

The Open Door grant is almost impossible to find on the FGC website.

FGC noted the Bright Futures Scholarships: “$196,000 was given to students this year, a total of $191,000 has been expended.”

The Bright Futures Grant is struck-through on the FCG website.

It is not clear how FGC delineates the school fiscal year from its scholarship year, or if there is a difference. The college had the opportunity to more fully explain. It didn’t.

Using President Barrett’s numbers of $1,593,000 in available FGC scholarship money and expenditures YTD (year to date – June 17) of $1,278,000, FGC will have 20% left over ($315k) at the end of the fiscal year (June 30).


Finding scholarship and grant information on the FGC website is not a friendly task.

The four counties – Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, and Union – are rural areas of critical economic concern (now RAOs). This means they are areas of persistent poverty, low household income, suffer a lack of business competitiveness, and have difficulty in attracting new business and jobs.

Scholarships are important to the families in the region.

President Barrett told your reporter, “I will be looking into ways to make scholarship and grant information more easily available and complete.”

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