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Numerica pays off nearly $20,000 in student debt

Four local college grads earn scholarships

A quartet of inspiring community members received a unique gift this December: nearly $20,000 paid toward their combined student debt. The tab was covered by Numerica Credit Union’s Student Loan Repayment Scholarship program.

The 2020 recipients include:

  • Chantilly Higbee of Rathdrum
  • Craig Robertson of Spokane
  • Rebecca Michkiosky of Wenatchee
  • Tera Bell of Kennewick

Each recipient received $5,000 paid directly toward the loan debt, except for Bell. (Her $4,500-plus balance was zeroed out by the scholarship.) Scholarship requirements included completion of an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.  

“For many people, the burden of student loan debt plagues them for years after college,” Numerica Financial Education Officer Katie Scofield said. “Relieving even a portion of this debt aligns with our commitment to our members’ financial well-being. These recipients inspired us with their dedication to tackling student debt, and we’re proud to support them.”

Meet the winners

Chantilly Higbee

“(This scholarship) cuts my existing balance nearly in half. … It inspires confidence and motivation to achieve all of the other goals I have in life.”

After earning a master’s degree from Eastern Washington University in 2017, Chantilly prioritized her debt. She and her husband chose to delay several dreams and even navigated a pandemic-related job loss. The debt is now less than a fourth of its original total.

Craig Robertson

“Life has dealt my family many challenges and extenuating circumstances since I acquired my student loan debt. … (The scholarship will) literally allow me to sleep better at night and experience less stress.”

Craig’s post-college game plan met an unexpected obstacle: cancer. His wife has endured several bouts with the disease, including six months in Seattle for a life-saving bone marrow transplant. As Craig has balanced work with being a caregiver, he calls the scholarship “a big step toward control of my finances, a goal I have long held.”

Rebecca Michkiosky

“I have been a counselor for 10 years now, and each day that I have the honor to see someone take steps toward mental and emotional freedom, the sacrifices we make as a family are worth it.”

On her way to becoming a licensed mental health counselor, Rebecca’s school debts mounted. She and her husband joke the loans have become a “silent, but expensive, member of our family.” After 13 years of hard work, two children, and unexpected medical bills, they now have more than 75% of the debt paid off. “Being debt free is still the next step,” she said.

Tera Bell

“As an adult learner, there are not many options available for financial assistance with existing student loan graduate debt. This opportunity helps when no other options exist.”

Student loan debt entered Tera’s life in 2003. The master’s degree training prepared her for her career as a healthcare social worker. Despite a series of obstacles through the years, Tera chipped away at the debt, never missing a payment. A parent, she works two jobs and helped cover her daughter’s college expenses. With the scholarship, her own student debt is now paid.

About Numerica scholarships

Through its various programs, Numerica awarded a total of $45,000 in scholarships in 2020.

While the Student Loan Repayment Scholarship announcement closes out this year, keep an eye out for 2021. Check out ongoing scholarship opportunities — and explore relevant advice for your financial well-being — through our Financial Education center. 

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