Student Opportunity Fund


The Student Opportunity Fund was established by Tom and Diane Ballard with support from Marty Adler-Jasny and Norm and Ann Naylor and was part of the 2018-19 Capital Campaign. The Fund is meant to break down the barriers that prevent Pellissippi State students from staying in school and moving forward with their education and graduating.

In a 2017 report entitled, “Making Ends Meet,” by the Center for Community College Engagement, data was collected from almost 100,000 students from 177 community colleges across the nation. A few of the findings included:

  • 47 percent of students say lack of finances is an issue that could cause them to withdraw.
  • 40 percent who receive federal grants also need student loans to make ends meet.
  • Many students who work say they are living paycheck to paycheck, especially those who have children.
  • Nearly 60 percent would have trouble getting $500 or less (from cash, credit, family/friends) to meet an unexpected need.

The Student Opportunity Fund Committee receives referrals from faculty and staff regarding students in crisis. Each individual student situation is carefully vetted by the Student Opportunity Fund Committee composed of the Dean of Students, Director of Financial Aid, Executive Director of the Pellissippi State Foundation, Director of Annual Giving and Scholarships and the Director of Student Care and Advocacy and is handled on a case-by-case basis. Through assistance with textbooks, transportation (fuel and bus passes), childcare, tuition and other emergency assistance, 85% of the students receiving Student Opportunity Fund help have either graduated or are still in school.

“Our Student Opportunity Fund ensures that students do not have to forgo or delay their educational dreams just because they have experienced an unexpected financial setback or are unable to afford their books.” Travis Loveday, Dean of Students at Pellissippi State.

“The assistance I received from the Student Opportunity Fund was the difference between me dropping out of school or graduating.” – Dalyssa

“For many of our students, paying for college is a huge challenge, and sometimes the unexpected happens and their educational plan and dream do not align with life’s current reality. The Student Opportunity Fund has ‘saved’ many students who find themselves in this type of situation and reach out for help.”  Richard Smelser, Director of Financial Aid at Pellissippi State

Since the Student Opportunity Fund’s inception in 2018, 198 students have received assistance totaling more than $69,294!

Donate to the Student Opportunity Fund