HOULTON, Maine — Citing the toll that the stock market collapse has taken on its assets, the Ricker Scholarship Endowment Program has reluctantly decided not to issue new scholarships for this year.
“We would like very much to not have to do this to students, especially in this time of need, but it would be more than we could handle,” Gary Bossie, the program’s executive director, said Friday.
Bossie said high schools throughout Aroostook County have been notified about the decision, which applies only to this year.
The program will continue to fund the estimated 90 scholarships already in the program, Bossie said.
Bossie, a Ricker College graduate who lives in Houlton, said the Ricker scholarship committee’s decision not to issue new scholarships this year was made upon the advice of its financial adviser, H.M. Payson & Co. of Portland.
“We’ve lost close to 50 percent of our principle,” he said, adding that the endowment’s value plunged from $2.9 million last May to $1.4 million.
“If the stock market rallies, we might be able to [resume the award of new scholarships] next year, but we won’t know until next spring,” Bossie said. “We’ll just have to take it as it comes.”
According to Bossie, the endowment fund typically awards 30 $1,500 scholarships each year to graduates of Aroostook County High Schools who are in the top quarter of their class, are pursuing four-year college degrees and who remain in good standing with their respective schools.
He said it will cost the endowment an estimated $130,000 to maintain the 90 scholarships that are in the pipeline.
According to published reports, the Ricker scholarships originally were valued at $1,000 annually, renewable until graduation. That amount was raised to $1,500 in 2005.
Ricker College closed in 1978, but the board still acts as a private, nonprofit charitable corporation.
Since awarding its first scholarships in 1985, the endowment program has awarded more than $2.7 million in scholarships.