Many University of Alabama students who did not receive incoming freshman scholarships experience the difficulties that come with trying to find financial aid after they arrive on campus, even with academic and extracurricular achievements.
One student, Alexis Carter, a junior majoring in marketing, performed well in high school, graduating at the top of her class. Since arriving to campus she has maintained a 4.0 GPA, but because her standardized test scores were lower than what UA requires for a scholarship, she pays out-of-state tuition.
Each year, students are asked to complete the University’s application for scholarships by the Dec. 1 deadline. The scholarships from this application for current students come from sources like academic departments or the general alumni scholarship funding.
Clif Davis, manager of the alumni scholarship program, said the National Alumni Association was responsible for awarding approximately $4.4 million in scholarship assistance to more than 2,400 students this academic year through earnings generated from investment of endowments, combined with its operating budget.
“While the majority of alumni scholarships are directed toward entering freshman students, there are several General Alumni Scholarships serving currently enrolled students, as well as the Academic Walk-On Scholarship that specifically benefits currently enrolled students,” Davis said.
The Academic Walk-On scholarship, Davis explained, is awarded to full-time UA undergraduate students who have completed at least three semesters on campus and who entered UA as non-scholarship holders or recipients of minimal awards.
“Approximately 350-400 applicants apply annually, from which 75 are eligible and 10-15 recipients are selected dependent upon available funding,” he said. “The award value is $1,500 per year and renewable for up to two years.”
Aside from these awards, there are 12 other general alumni endowments available for currently enrolled students, Davis said, which range upwards from $500 per year, with some renewable for up to two years.
“The number of students receiving these scholarships depends upon funding available for that award, but normally at least one student recipient is awarded for each endowment.”
The UA Office of Media Relations did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Velda Rooker, director of university scholarships at Auburn, agreed most of their general scholarships were aimed at attracting incoming freshman students.
“Approximately 50 percent of General Scholarships state a preference or requirement for incoming freshman,” Rooker said. “For those few General Scholarships with broader criteria, all residents and non-residents can be considered, which makes those scholarships very competitive.”
Rooker explained more general scholarships are awarded to incoming freshman because they are often used for recruitment purposes.
“Conversely, the various colleges and schools award Departmental Scholarships primarily to current students as a means of recognizing achievement and for retention purposes,” she said.
Laura Diven-Brown, financial aid director at The University of Mississippi, said general scholarships are definitely targeted more to recruitment of new freshman or community college transfers on their campus as well.
“Financial aid awards some general scholarships, but the others are typically handled by academic departments when it comes to continuing students,” Diven-Brown said. “We have scholarships that are one-year only, although most are renewable for up to four years, but then these are offered only to entering freshmen.”
At the academic department level, Diven-Brown said funds can be used for both recruitment and to award deserving majors who have done well in their studies at The University of Mississippi.
“Like many financial aid administrators, I do wish there were more funds for continuing students who are performing well in college,” she said.
Carter, who continues to work hard to stay involved on campus, said after her freshman year, she felt as if applying for scholarships was utterly useless.
“Every semester it seems harder and harder to receive any type of scholarships because most major funds are designated to students during their freshman year, and each department has fairly small amounts to award upperclassmen,” Carter said.
After maintaining a 4.0 in high school and involving herself in various clubs and extracurricular activities, Carter said she feels like all her hard work was done for nothing.
“Each year I usually receive $2,000 to $2,500 from departmental scholarships, which may seem like a lot to an in-state student, but when I am paying full out-of-state tuition, it just skims the surface of my payments.”
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