More than $100,000 in Alma Education and Arts Foundation scholarships has been awarded to Alma seniors.

This is the first year the foundation has reached $100,000 in scholarships, said Alma School District Superintendent David Woolly. Scholarships were presented to 97 students during a May 4 awards assembly at the Alma Performing Arts Center.

"The foundation being so interested in helping our graduates is a wonderful, wonderful thing," Woolly said. "It allows many of our students graduating to get started on their education with fewer worries. It’s one of those things that sets our school district apart."

This year’s total of $101,700 surpasses the foundation’s previous record, set last year at $72,000, said Lauren Schlabach, Alma communications director. Awarded was $37,450 in named scholarships, and $64,250 in general scholarships, she said.

Funding for the scholarships comes from four sources, Woolly said: professional entertainment proceeds from the Alma PAC, staff donations via voluntary payroll deductions, donor contributions and, for memorial scholarship funds, investment proceeds.

"The organization is still growing and improving, and more people are getting involved, and that just leads to more contributions," Woolly said.

Woolly also credited this year’s nearly $30,000 jump to a successful year at the Alma PAC, and bigger investment incomes because of an improving stock market.

Since its inception in 2002, the AEAF has awarded more than $700,000 in scholarships. Total scholarship amounts have been growing steadily every year, Woolly said.

While named, or memorial scholarships, are often set with specific guidelines for winners, the general scholarships can be used by any student for the school and major of their choice, Woolly said.

Senior Michaela Finley received the largest amount in AEAF scholarships, a total of $3,250. Finley received the Alma High School Memorial Scholarship, Mary and Deck Teague Scholarship, Marsha Woolly Scholarship and a general AEAF Scholarship.

Alma students received more than $5 million total offers in scholarship monies this year and are accepting more than $4 million, Schlabach said.