Portland High School senior Ellis Linsmith plans to rely heavily on scholarships to fund her college education.The 17-year-old, who lives with her mother, a high school teacher, expects to qualify for a substantial amount of financial aid, but she is hoping to cover as much of her need as possible through grants and scholarships rather than student loans.

So far, Linsmith is off to a good start. She already has been accepted to the University of New Haven in Connecticut and offered a Distinguished Scholar Award worth $16,000 annually for up to four years.

The money would be subtracted directly from her annual tuition and would be in addition to whatever need-based financial aid she receives.

The total annual cost to attend New Haven is about $51,400, including tuition, books, fees and living expenses; and the average indebtedness of 2013 graduates was $41,300, according to collegedata.com.

Linsmith, who is interested in attending law school after earning her bachelor’s degree, applied to six colleges in the Northeast and said she has no clear favorite. Obviously, the award from New Haven will make her think seriously about attending.

“Wherever I get the money is where I’ll be headed,” she said. “I don’t want to graduate with debt.”