NINE regional students were presented with scholarships worth $36,000 each to study at La Trobe University, Bendigo, last week.
The Bendigo Bank La Trobe Scholarships are offered to students who achieve excellent academic results, are leaders in their communities and who have had to overcome financial disadvantage.
The students are offered $12,000 per year of study for a bachelor degree in cash and kind. La Trobe University provides students with on-campus accommodation worth $6000 and Bendigo Bank provides them with $6000 in cash to contribute to their study costs.
Recipient Sarah Noonan, 19, from Malmsbury, said the scholarship was an enormous help.
"It's incredible - I didn't realise how expensive uni was until I started doing research for the scholarship; books are so expensive," she said. "I thought everything was on HECs but you have to pay for some things upfront.
"When I got here and got the scholarship I was like 'my life is set!'"
Ms Noonan, who is studying a Bachelor Applied Science and Physiotherapy, said she had wanted to be a physiotherapist since she was 10 years old. She said she wanted to study at La Trobe Bendigo due to the fact the campus was smaller than many Melbourne universities, allowing students and lecturers to get to know one another.
"You can meet your facilitator, you can talk to them," she said. "My accounting lecturer already knows my name and where I'm from."
Talia Gordon, from Beiliba, said everyone at the Bendigo campus had been welcoming and friendly.
She said living in a thriving regional town was a great contrast to Bealiba, which has a population of 300.
"It's pretty crazy, I'm not used to seeing anyone!" she said.
Vice-Chancellor John Dewar said the scholarships provided students with a life-changing opportunity.
"Regional students are under-represented in higher education," he said.
“These scholarships are really important for us and the bank because they make all the difference."