BIG SKY – Local resident Barbara Rowley recently established a college preparatory fund to benefit Lone Peak High School students with good grades but limited family income. It’s now gaining ground and founders are anticipating further community support.

The Lone Peak College Preparatory Fund aims to provide strong students that have aspirations to attend the nation’s most selective schools with the preparatory guidance that is standard among the peers they compete against at a national level. It was kick-started with a $3,000 donation from Bruce and Mary Lou Cook, a local family, and was recently matched by Rowley and her husband Taylor Middleton.

“This fund is for students applying to selective schools who need all of this prep to compete and who may not otherwise be able to afford it,” Rowley wrote in an email.

The fund will help cover costs of the college application process including testing fees and preparation, admission application fees, additional guidance and some travel costs for school visits.

These costs can exceed $2,000 per student, according to information presented before the school board on Dec. 18. Many students who would most benefit and who would otherwise gain acceptance to top universities do not take all the tests needed, apply as widely as necessary, or develop the résumé that would make admission possible, according to Rowley, who has served as a volunteer advisor for several LPHS seniors over the past three years.

She said students often feel that expensive, top-tier schools are out of reach when in fact more scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available at the nation’s top universities, many of which guarantee they will cover admitted students’ demonstrated need.

LPHS Program Coordinator Brenda Yahraes, who primarily serves as the school’s academic counselor, will determine qualifying students and expenses.

Interested donors can contact the Big Sky School District at (406) 995-4281 for more information.