Foundation for Excellence: Investing in the lives of students in India

While the student enrollments in schools in India have trended up over the years, when it comes to pursuing higher education in science and engineering, many students who have both the inclination and academic ability are compelled to give up their academic pursuits due to economic constraints. According to World Bank estimate, as of 2015, about 176 million Indians or 13.4 percent of the total Indian population are below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day. Students from such families rarely get the opportunity to enroll in colleges to get quality professional education, as the costs are well beyond their affordability. Consequently, they drop-off from education and enter the low-skill, low-income workforce unable to fulfill their dream and potential.

There is a widely held view that college education in India is either free or inexpensive and, therefore, meritorious students could easily access such professional colleges without financial hurdles. Actual data shows this to be untrue. First, the number of government colleges is nowhere close to the demand from students who are trying to get higher education. This is the reason for the proliferation of private colleges across India. Further, even in government colleges that are free or charge very low fees, a student needs to cover many other costs that all add up to a substantial amount and are often beyond the paying capacity of families that are economically disadvantaged.

While some scholarships are available, it is both vastly inadequate compared to the need and, wherever available, it is very cumbersome to obtain given the complex bureaucratic process involved.  Thus, there is a real need for easily accessible financial assistance, to enable academically strong students from underprivileged families to go beyond vocational training and qualify for professional careers.

Foundation for Excellence (FFE) established in 1994, to solve for this growing problem in India, has a mission to provide college scholarships to students who, although financially constrained, show great promise in the technological, engineering and medical fields. To date, they have distributed over $23 million and over 57,000 scholarships to students in India, giving them ample opportunity to pursue professional education and careers.

To learn more about FFE, watch Supreeta’s inspirational story of how this scholarship is changing the trajectory of her life. She is just one of thousands of students who will fulfill their dream and potential and be part of India’s modern workforce. Without these types of opportunities, there are too many students like her who will never have the chance to go to college. And that is simply too big of a price to pay.