UPDATE | Donors help cash-strapped Central HS valedictorian pay for college
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- What a difference a day made for Jacinda Vertrees
WDRB viewers and donors responded quickly to the story of Central High School's 2018 co-valedictorian who couldn't afford college.
Vertrees was all set to attend Murray State University for its veterinary program, but she said her single mother didn't file taxes in 2016, which put her financial aid on hold.
Grants, scholarships and government-backed loans have all been frozen until Vertrees and her mom complete the verification process for the Federal Application for Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, a process that the 18-year-old said she could not complete before the start of school.
"I have $8,000 left due for the first semester, and it's due by the 5th (of August) or they cancel your schedule, and you can't go to school there," Vertrees said Monday.
The community is helping the straight "A" student with a real-life test in financial struggles.
Just 24 hours after her story aired, Vertrees' GoFundMe page has more than $8,600 in donations. Some donations ranged from $10 to $50. Others ranged from $100 to $1,000.
"I just want to thank everyone for sharing and donating," Ventrees said. "Anything helped, and it's just amazing."
Vertrees works full-time at Kentucky Kingdom and part-time at a Mr. Gatti's pizza location in Louisville this summer, because she said she knew the cost of college would fall on her shoulders. Even in high school, she helped her single mother pay bills.
"I was completely in shock. I never knew any of this would happen," Vertrees said. "Right now, this feeling doesn't feel real.
It's a story of both kindness and friendship.
Leigh Himes, Vertrees' classmate at Central, launched the GoFundMe page without Vertrees even knowing at first. Himes said through the years, she watched her best friend pay for things that other kids didn't have to, like a car, and she didn't want her left behind after working so hard.
"It's important for her to have her education and be a vet tech," Himes said. "She's always wanted to do that, so I wanted to make sure she was able to go through with it."
The two will attend Murray State together, and Vertrees promises to fix her financial aid problems.
"I am going to look for more scholarships for next semester and next year even," she said. "It's just something I'm invested in."
Education is something Vertrees is invested in, and it looks like the community bought in to her success.
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