The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, with the Santa Barbara Foundation, awarded $7.3 million in financial aid to students in Santa Barbara County on Wednesday.

Awards were handed out at a ceremony in the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Garden.

With budget cuts to universities across the nation driving up the cost of tuition, many students are burdened with the prospect of racking up increasing amounts of debt. The Scholarship Foundation aims to lower the financial burden put on students and help make their dreams of higher education a reality.

In addition to awarding scholarships and loans each year, the Scholarship Foundation also offers advising for students and their families on alternative sources for financial aid.

Students received awards from more than 400 scholarships to help them achieve their academic goals. The range of students represented was wide, including those starting or continuing their undergraduate degrees in the fall, and those attending graduate school as well as medical school.

Daniela Alvarado, who received the Jack Laher Memorial Scholarship, will attend UC Irvine in the fall to study biology.

“I want to thank the foundation for considering me, and allowing me to have this award,” Alvarado said. “It is truly great that they help students out by offering these scholarships.”

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