Pedro Guajardo Jr. said he had his life figured out after high school graduation.
"I thought I was just going to go to a community college, do my two years and start working," he said.
Instead, the former Yakima Valley resident received a scholarship to Washington State University's Tri-Cities campus with help from the Mathematics Engineering Sciences Achievement, or MESA, program.
Now he is a junior pursuing majors in electrical engineering and business administration.
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"Having a scholarship kept me in school," said Guajardo.
WSU officials at the Richland campus announced this week they will be able to offer another $50,000 in new scholarships to freshmen and current students enrolling for the fall 2012 semester.
The new scholarships couldn't come at a better time, as WSU tuition is expected to hit $10,874 for the 2012-13 school year.
That is a 16 percent increase from current tuition rates but a 73 percent jump since the Tri-City campus began offering four-year programs five years ago.
"It kind of scares me sometimes," said Alice Loc, a junior and vice president of the Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities.
The Pasco High grad said many of the student leaders she works with have multiple jobs on campus and possibly have a job or two off campus to make ends meet along with their financial aid.
Enrollment at the WSU Tri-Cities campus has grown since bachelor's degrees began being offered. Total student enrollment now is more than 1,500 students, up from 1,240 in fall 2007. And full-time students rose 35 percent to 1,143 from 849 four years ago.
A lot of that growth is coming from students who are the first in their families to attend college or are from low-income backgrounds. And about half of the WSU Tri-Cities students are receiving some form of financial aid.
But Sharon Holden, director of advancement and regional development at the Richland campus, told the Herald that they already have received more than 450 scholarship applications for this fall semester.
"This is far more than the 207 scholarships we awarded last year, so we are pushing to raise another $250,000 to meet those additional student requests over the next 90 days," she said.
More than half of the new scholarship money announced this week is earmarked for Hispanic students through the Hispanic Academic Achievers Program.
HAAP will offer nine new scholarships this fall, the largest being a $10,000 chancellor's award. Six school districts in Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties participate in the program, and any of their students who participated are eligible for the awards.
Also, Richland Kiwanis, the Curran Family Scholarship Endowment and WSU Tri-Cities are providing three $2,500 scholarships to any high school graduate from Richland's public and private high schools.
And Gesa Credit Union will offer a new $5,000 scholarship to any of its members attending the school next fall, while federal contractor Fluor will provide new scholarships totaling $10,000 for engineering students.
Guajardo said he knows how hard it can be to get scholarships and he didn't waste any time after he heard late Tuesday about a scholarship he was eligible for.
Within a few hours, Guajardo said he already had the bulk of materials he needed to apply, including two letters of recommendation.
"It's a competitive world for scholarships," he said.