The Bellingham Business Journal
John and Mimi Ferlin, owners of Brooks Manufacturing Co. in Bellingham, have endowed a $100,000 scholarship to help Bellingham Technical College (BTC) students pay for tuition, textbooks and lab equipment expenses.
This endowment will exist in perpetuity and benefit two BTC students each year. Annual awards from the scholarship will be aimed at helping students who demonstrate significant financial need and are enrolled in one of BTC’s more costly two-year degree programs.
Apart from tuition and books, some of BTC’s programs require students to make a significant investment in the tools they will need to succeed at school and in their careers. For example, a dental kit for dental hygiene students costs $4,000 while diesel and automotive technology students can expect to pay between $7,000 and $8,000 for needed equipment.
“We strongly believe in the value of workforce education and are thrilled that this gift will give students the opportunity to get the skills and training they need to secure good-paying jobs and support their families,” Mimi said in a press release. “As long-time business owners we know that our future economic prosperity rests on making sure we have qualified workers to fill jobs that will shortly be vacated by retiring baby boomers. Making this investment in BTC’s students reflects our desire to support education and strengthen our community.”
The scholarship gift comes at a critical time. Students have seen tuition costs rise by 7 percent in the last year with an additional 7 percent hike forecasted for the next biennium. Financial aid requests at BTC have increased by 287 percent over the last three years and scholarship applications have more than doubled since 2008.
“The need for scholarship funds is at an all-time high here at BTC,” BTC Interim President Patricia McKeown said in a press release. “Tuition increases, limited federal and state financial aid, and high equipment costs make for a perfect funding storm. This incredible gift from Brooks Manufacturing Co. not only helps meet a tremendous financial need but inspires our students to succeed in the classroom and the workplace.”
Brooks Manufacturing is located at 2120 Pacific St. and makes crossarms and other framing pieces for phone and power poles.