A simple summer job could help Indiana students earn full-ride scholarship

Nick Vanfossen determines the distance to the hole while caddying at Meridian Hills Country Club. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Last week, we reported on Daybreak that college freshman left billions of federal aid dollars on the table, because they didn’t file a free application for federal student aid or FAFSA form. But that’s not the only money college students are missing out on in recent years.

There’s a full-ride scholarship opportunity that many Indiana kids just don’t know about.

It’s called the Evans Scholarship Foundation. It’s backed by the Western Golf Association, but you don’t have to be a golfer to earn it. It’s actually for kids who caddie.

“It’s the ability to be able to walk with someone for four and a half hours and be able to communicate the entire time and keep conversation flowing,” Nick Vanfossen, Indiana University Sophomore and Evans Scholar, said.

20-year-old Vanfossen is a caddy at Meridian Hills Country Club.

“I started caddying in sixth grade and then from there I just learned about it through the club and through word of mouth,” Vanfossen said.” And then made it my goal to pursue it and get the scholarship.” Lending a hand on the links lead to a full-ride scholarship for Vanfossen and even free room and board.

In 2017, 270 caddies received the Evans Scholarship, exceeding $17.5 million.

“It’s absolutely massive to be able to come out of school with no debt whatsoever compared to seeing all the people all around me who are going $60,000, $80,000 and $100,000 in debt to be able to have that number be zero and come out debt-free is just life-changing,” Vanfossen said.

The organization was started by the generosity of a decorated amateur golfer in the early 1900’s. According to the Western Golf Association, Chick Evans decided to place in escrow any money that came his way from his golf skills so he could retain his amateur status. He and his mother, Lena Young Evans, designated those funds for a scholarship program for caddies.

In the 1930’s, the WGA took over the scholarship program and officially created the Evans Scholarship Foundation. Based near Chicago and originally only sending students to Northwestern, Evans Scholarship Houses can be found at: Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Marquette, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue, Colorado, Missouri, Indiana, Miami, Northern Illinois and Oregon.

Being an Evans Scholar has become a coveted resume addition, among people who have been on the bag of hundreds of golfers.

“It’s not as hard as people make it seem. You just have to know which club to hand the guy and most of the time they tell you which club, so you just have to be able to walk,” Ethan Parsley, IU Sophomore and Evans Scholar, said.

But there’s a problem for the Evans Scholarship Foundation.

“It’s just that there are not as many clubs out there that have good robust caddie programs as we would like to see,” John Gallina, Executive Vice President and CFO of Anthem said.

He’s a past Evans Scholar and huge supporter of the foundation today.

Gallina said carts have replaced caddies on many golf courses nationwide, making it difficult for kids to learn about or complete the requirements to become an Evans Scholar. So he and other Evans Scholars are hoping to raise awareness to encourage more students to seek out the spots offering seasonal jobs that could lead to that big scholarship.

“It is that simple and then you’re making money along the way and even making some contacts potentially with members, with successful business men and women,” Gallina said.  “Really the main thing is that we just need to spread the word and show people that it’s not hard to caddy. You don’t have to be a golfer. You don’t have to golfing skills. You just have to be able to work hard, keep up, and try your hardest and you can be a caddie and you can get the Evans Scholarship too,” Vanfossen said.

Recipients of the Evans Scholarship typically stay within their home state, so Indiana recipients can attend Indiana University or Purdue University.

To qualify, caddies must be nominated by their club and meet four requirements:

  1. Strong caddie record: Applicants must have caddied, successfully and regularly, for a minimum of two years and are also expected to caddie and/or work at their sponsoring club during the summer when they apply for the scholarship.
  2. Excellent academics: Applicants must have completed their junior year of high school with above a B average in college preparatory courses and are required to take the ACT and/or SAT.
  3. Demonstrated financial need: Applicants must clearly establish their need for financial assistance.
  4. Outstanding character: Applicants must be outstanding in character, integrity and leadership.

You can apply for the Evans Scholarship Application here.