In 1948, Founder Nyles Ayers graduated from Mt. Airy High School in North Carolina. Ayers was an excellent student, showing an early interest in learning and a dedication to hard work. Academically, Ayers often stood out among the other students in his class. He also spent his free time volunteering in his community. However, despite his achievements in the classroom and his involvement in the community, his family could not afford to help him continue his education.
With no money for college, Ayers needed to find a way to finance his education and did not want to have large student loans to pay off after he graduated. After discovering he was eligible to apply for some local and state scholarships, he immediately completed the applications and awaited the results. Ayers was fortunate to receive the financial aid he sought, and accepted an offer to attend college at Columbia University. This experience fueled Ayers’ life-long dedication to making education possible for anyone.
Ayers went on to serve in Admissions and Financial Aid Departments of colleges and universities across the country. Despite his success, Ayers never forgot the source of these opportunities—his financially aided education.
In 1970, the Tennessee Council of Private Colleges hired Ayers to be their President and represent the state’s 40 private colleges and universities. Over the next 15 years, Ayers worked with foundations, non-profit organizations and academic institutions as he established and administered hundreds of scholarships benefiting thousands of students.
In 1985, Ayers incorporated his business and named it Scholarship Program Administrators, Inc. (SPA). Over the next 20 years, SPA refined the scholarship management process to better serve programs of all types. SPA learned to adapt their scholarship management principles to meet the needs of an ever-changing applicant pool. SPA was a pioneer in the movement to make scholarship, grant and tuition assistance programs paperless by bringing them online.
In 2002, Becky Sharpe joined SPA as President and immediately infused her passion for customer service, teamwork and the environment. Sharpe invested in industry-leading technology and infrastructure while driving the company’s substantial growth.
By 2008, Sharpe acquired the company (making it 100% a women-owned business) and rebranded the company as International Scholarship and Tuition Services, Inc. (ISTS) to reflect the company’s growth in both size and scope of services. Her fresh approach to program management quickly made ISTS a leader in earth-friendly practices and cutting-edge technology.
Today, Sharpe leads a talented team of management professionals dedicated to the highest levels of service and attention to detail. In the spirit of founder Nyles Ayers, ISTS is committed to making education a reality for all.