“Hard-luck” means experiencing bad luck or difficulty. By definition, hard luck scholarships are for people in financial, social, familial, drug-related or other difficulties. In most cases, such scholarships aim to encourage the recipients to similarly assist a future generation of hard luck scholars, repayment for their own change of fortune as it were. There are instances where hard luck becomes more like good luck for some scholarship recipients.

The Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program

Horatio Alger, Jr., was a 19th century author of renown, whose accounts of overcoming adversity enthralled and inspired his readers. The nonprofit Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., sponsors The Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program. Since 1984, the program has awarded over $125 million in scholarships to over 20,000 students. This annual program assists high school students who face and overcome exceptional adversity despite the odds. The value of each scholarship can be $25,000 per year depending on if the scholarship is a state or national opportunity with graduate school level scholarships totaling $125,000 per student. High school seniors who are U.S. citizens with a minimum 2.0 GPA and who aspire to attend college are eligible. Critical financial need is a factor in awarding this scholarship, with consideration given to an adjusted gross income per family of $55,000 or less. The association also considers how the applicant plans to use his or her future college degree to serve others.

Ava’s Grace Scholarship

The children of prisoners are perhaps the most obvious examples of a hard luck definition. There are organizations that provide scholarships to these victims of crime. Such an organization is Missouri-based Ava’s Grace Scholarship Foundation. The foundation offers three annual scholarships to children who have an incarcerated parent or primary care giver with the scholarship opportunity covering tuition, books, accommodation, transportation and other items included in the cost of college or university. It applies to associate, technical and other programs in addition to undergraduate degrees. The scholarship is renewable annually and subject to a satisfactory academic performance. In the longer term, the program encourages scholarship recipients to seek career opportunities that provide for a good and honest living, for themselves and their future families. Requirements for application include permanent residency in Missouri or specific Illinois counties, demonstrating financial need, a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA, planned or current enrollment in a degree program seeking a first Technical, Associate or Bachelor's degree. Since its 2010 founding, the Ava's Grace Scholarship program has given and committed more than $600,000 to 30 students.

Sunshine Lady Scholarship

Established in 1996 by Doris Buffett, sister of Warren Buffett; the Sunshine Lady Foundation focuses on assisting the working poor and families in crisis through financial support for organizations and programs that serve these families. The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program through the Doris Buffett scholarship program offers scholarships to survivors of intimate partner abuse, with the overall goal of eliminating domestic violence through education. The foundation’s awards are like investments with expected, profitable returns.

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