Donors fund students' education through departmental scholarships
News | Sarah Boadwine
Of the questions looming over students’ heads as the school year draws to a close, “How will I pay for another year of college?” is one of the most significant. With the rewarding of departmental scholarships having taken place a couple of weeks ago, some students are feeling more confident about their answer.
At Bethel there are several different categories of scholarships, but they fall into two areas: scholarships for incoming students and departmental scholarships for current students.
The first type of scholarship that students at Bethel receive are those that they receive as incoming students, such as the presidential scholarship, other academic scholarships and music scholarships. These are monies that are part of an operating budget.
Monies that donors have given to Bethel fund departmental scholarships. Donors either write a check to cover the scholarship that goes straight into the hands of a student, or the earnings from their investments is given back in the form of a scholarship.
When donors set up a scholarship program, they work with the Office of Development to determine what is important to them about the scholarship and how they would like to fund it.
“For instance, I think that we still have a scholarship for a student whose parent is a North Dakota farmer, or scholarships that say, you have to be in this major, and your GDP has to be a certain amount, it goes on down the list,” said Jeffrey Olson, director of financial aid.
According to Olson, once the scholarships have been set up, the Department of Financial Aid—in partnership with the Office of Development—will go through and try to address the criteria set up for the scholarship. They will then attempt to code them into categories, which will be helpful in deciding which students fulfill the requirements.
After this, the scholarships are passed onto the departments that will distribute them. Each department at Bethel creates a committee within itself that reviews the applications submitted by the students, matches them with the donor’s intent and selects the recipients.
With the rise of tuition prices, financial need has become a growing factor in students' lives. Some departmental scholarships are need based, but others are completely based on what the donor decides.
“As the development office is working with the donor, that is one of the questions that they are trying to identify: whether the donors are going to say this scholarship is need based,” Olson said.
When scholarships are need based, the same criteria is used to decide who receives them, as with other financial aid. This formula is as follows:
1. Current year of attendance
2. Minus current year pro-rated EFC (results of the Free-Application for Federal Student Aid)
3. Minus current year gift aid (grants, scholarships, tuition benefits) awarded by financial aid office
4. Minus current year resources recorded in RPAARSC (third-party scholarships provided by groups like Dollars for Scholars)
5. Minus 6,000 (freshman level Subsidized Loan and Work study eligibility: 3500 + 2500 = 6000)
6. Equals remaining need
Once the decision has been made about whether a student is “in need,” applicant data is reported to scholarship committees, classifying students as “remaining need,” “needy” or “not needy.”
Through the process deciding on the receiving students for scholarships, there is always the possibility of error. According to junior Rachel Wilson, she was rewarded with a scholarship meant for a “student of color." This was a mistake in her situation.
“I received an email explaining that the scholarship was revoked, as I am not a person of color. Thankfully, my scholarship was replaced with a Bethel scholarship,” Wilson said.
According to Olson, this was merely an error. This might have happened because of one of the faculty members picked a recipient without looking clearly enough at the donor intent information.
“When we identify a scholarship has been mis-rewarded, we have to retract that scholarship and honor that donor intent. We can’t reward scholarships and not honor the donor intent for it,” Olson said.
For some students like Wilson, this mistake had little consequence, as they are rewarded with another scholarship to compensate.
This is not always the case when mis-rewarded scholarships are revoked. There is not always anything given to students to compensate. According to Olson, it all depends on the scope of the situation. For instance, how quickly the problem was resolved and to what extent the department believed the student was at a disadvantage are also factors that are considered.
As tuition continues to rise, any form of financial aid can help a student. During these last couple of weeks of school, some students have found themselves rejoicing over their newly rewarded scholarships, and others are wondering how they will be able to make it through the next year financially.