Beaufort County students could be helped for years to come by a new scholarship foundation.
The Jim and Margaret Krum Foundation has set aside $8.4 million to provide college and graduate-school scholarships for local students, it was announced this week.
Carolyn Torgersen, a spokeswoman for the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, said $8.4 million is the largest legacy gift a fund under the Community Foundation's umbrella has received.
Martin Cohn, chairman of the new foundation's board, said the Krums were the "sweetest, nicest people in the world," and helping students afford education was important to them.
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The couple lived in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island for decades and decided before Jim Krum's death in 2000 that they wanted to create scholarships.
Margaret Krum later died, and the couple's money has been used to create the larger foundation.
The first Krum scholarship was awarded in 2003. On average, Krum scholars receive about $8,500 a year, and students can renew the scholarship as long as they maintain their grades and reapply.
The scholarships are awarded to students who excel in school, are ambitious and are active in community service, Cohn said.
"That's the Krums. They wanted community service to be a requirement," he said.
Muira McCammon, a 2009 scholarship recipient, said the money has helped her attend the college of her choice.
The former Hilton Head Island High School student is a rising senior at Carleton College in Minnesota. Tuition, room and board will cost about $55,000 next school year, according to the college's website.
The scholarship has allowed her to tackle summer research projects in Europe, Israel, Canada and throughout the U.S. That wouldn't have been possible if she had to work all summer to help pay for college.
"I wouldn't be at Carleton without the Krum (scholarship)," she said. "It would have been a substantial stretch. Who knows if it would be feasible. At a basic level, I owe the Krums the world for that."
And as she looks to the future -- and the possibility of several graduate degrees before a career in education policy and law -- she's thankful that she could continue to receive the scholarship.
"It's just tremendous that they are willing to fund me in such a major way," she said.
Cohn said he hopes the new foundation will continue to help students like McCammon. He wants to establish a network of current and future scholarship winners. The group may meet for dinners and would advise each other.
McCammon plans to help Cohn with the network because she wants to be a mentor to other students, she said.
"College can be such a maze," McCammon said. "I really firmly believe in a mentoring structure, so you can call upon peers and say, 'What should I do with my summer? Should I go to Morocco and study Arabic? Or should I save my money and volunteer locally?' "
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Related content:Community Foundation of the Lowcountry