If Ajit Kumar had not received a free engineering seat, he would be selling groceries at the petty shop owned by his father in the outskirts of Ariyalur. Last year, the 18-year-old wrote to various NGOs and the CM’s cell for scholarship to pursue engineering in a government college. “My cut-off was 196.5 and I never thought getting a free seat in an engineering college would be so difficult. My father could not pay the fees,” says Ajit Kumar. Though engineering colleges are mushrooming, hundreds of meritorious students are forced to relinquish their dreams as they are unable to meet the cost. Ajit Kumar was fortunate enough to come across Dhanalakshmi Raja Educational and Charitable Trust, which helped him secure a free seat at Agni College of Technology. Nearly 250 students like Ajit have got the gift of higher education thanks to this Chennai-based trust. Started by R. Saravanan in 2011, the not-forprofit organisation helps secure an engineering seat for meritorious students from poor families at engineering colleges for free.
“We get colleges to sponsor the complete education of such students. There are private colleges that are happy to get such meritorious students. For, these student will bring laurels to the college. We are a bridge between such students and colleges,” says 36-year-old Saravanan who worked as administrative officer in various educational institutions. Saravanan claims his Trust does not take any fee for facilitating an admission “My sister secured 1,148 out of 1200 but in the entrance test secured 271. She was not eligible for a free seat at Anna University. Our financial situation was bad, so my sister opted for a diploma programme at the Central Polytechnic College, Taramani, where she got a free seat.”
This, Saravanan says, was the reason for starting the Trust. The very first students that the Trust helped were seven state-level women volleyball players. “These girls could not pay even Rs. 15,000 a year and received no guidance. I approached ARM Engineering College that offered to meet all their educational expenses,” he says. Today, Saravanan is helped by a team of 15; many are beneficiaries and some are supporters. G. Sivamani, an employee of Tata Consultancy Services, is a beneficiary who coordinates with students of Virudhachalam. N. Ramachandran, an MBA student; Silambanathan K, a lab technician and S. Abilash working with a coaching institute, are among the others helping him. Saravanan is grateful to Vidhya Srikanth of Srinivasa Academy, Tambaram, which offers free tuitions in engineering subjects to these students. Last year, the Trust got 600 applications and 175 of them got free admission. “We can do more. If you know anyone who has a cut-off of 190 and needs financial assistance, please refer them to us,” he says. Saravanan can be reached at 9791101696.
*TNEAhelp.in, a website started by alumni of College of Engineering, Guindy, has added new features to guide students through the engineering admission process. ‘College-Finder’ toll list the probable colleges and branches that a student can get for his/her cut-off. The website has a feature where students’ currently pursuing engineering answer queries about various branches and information about colleges. Also, check out www.facebook.com/tneahelp
*www.collegesintamilnadu.com, www.annauniversitycounselling.com, www.TNEA2015.co.in are a few websites that also offer a guide.