Budding university students and tradies from Orange and surrounds can get a helping hand with a grant from the Country Education Foundation of Orange & District.
Grant applications are now open, and can assist with expenses related to travel, technology, tools and study resources.
CEF Orange & District supports locals aged 16-25, with previous recipients hailing from places including Orange, Millthorpe, Blayney and Molong.
Further education can present additional challenges for university and TAFE students living outside major metropolitan centres. Isolation, long travel distances and reliable connectivity are among them.
Orange born and bred, Emily Wooding is studying International Relations and Criminology at the University of Sydney. She received a grant this year.
"The funds have helped me astronomically," Ms Wooding said.
"I used my funds for textbooks and to buy a new laptop that actually works!
"Going to university in a large city is incredibly scary and nerve-wracking, particularly if you don't know anyone. However, if you give everything a go, get involved, meet new people and make friends, it suddenly becomes less scary and more exciting."
CEF Orange & District is part of the national Country Education Foundation of Australia network, which was created to assist rural and regional youth of any background or ability in their pursuit of an apprenticeship, traineeship or university degree.
Selection is based on need, not academic success and shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview.
CEF Orange & District chairman Scott Barrett said 2020 has been an "extraordinary year, particularly for our year 12 students, or those in their first year of further study. We hope that by providing that bit of extra financial and emotional support, we can inspire them carry on and pursue their goals in 2021".
"Whether it is easing the financial burden of moving away to uni, or purchasing some tools for an apprenticeship, if you have the goal and the desire, then I'd highly recommend applying for a grant," Mr Barrett added.
Applications close on December 31.
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