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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- First Coast News has launched a new Hero Next Door Student scholarship initiative.

In this economy, there is a financial need for many families and students who want to attend college. But they are just wondering how to pay for it. On Your Side reporter David Williams has more on a reduction in funds for scholarships and how we at First Coast News are trying to help.

"We had always planned on him to go to college," said Karen VellaPorta.

To VellaPorta, college is important for her 17-year-old son, Travis.

He's a Creekside High School junior. He likes soccer, but is undecided on where to go.

"I'd like to be able to say 'you can go wherever you want,' but we can't," she said.

When it comes to paying for college, VellaPorta said "price definitely plays a role in it. I think it's going to cost an arm and a leg regarudless of where you go."

Steve Soud, the Bolles School's Director of college counseling said college costs have outpaced inflation for 20 years.

"It is certainly harder than it was this time 5 or 10 years ago," he said. "In part because of the economy."

For the 2010-11 school year, the Florida Department of Education's Bright Futures scholarship program awarded $311,916,028.00, according to spokesperson Kassandra Elekes.

For four-year public schools during the 2011-12 year, $250,995,727.00 was awarded.

"Certainly, Bright Futures has been carved away over the past several years," he said. "It doesn't cover nearly as much as it used to."

"A scholarship would help regardless of where he were going,"VellaPorta said.

First Coast News is here to help. As part of our commitment to you, we are awarding 11 scholarships to students for a total of $15,000 dollars. It is a way for FCN to be able to help families like the VellaPortas.

Soud said, without question, a college education is still important.

First Coast News wants as many students as possible to apply.

Ten students will be awarded $1,000 scholarships and one student will be awarded a $5,000 scholarship.

Read the official rules and enter online by clicking here. Then watch Good Morning Jacksonville every morning between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. weekdays May 8th through May 22nd.

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