Rowan’s Student Government Association (SGA) was running a micro-scholarship program for full-time undergraduate students for the first several weeks of the spring semester.
Applications closed on Feb. 3 at 11:59 p.m. and had the aim of providing additional funds to students for textbooks and other supplies and academic necessities. SGA awarded a total of $5,000 to 20 recipients, each receiving $250. No minimum GPA or essay was required for the application.
The selection process was entirely random, using a computer to choose the recipients, and any student who had received one of the scholarships in the fall semester was not eligible for the most recent round of selections.
Emerson Harman, SGA’s assistant vice president of academic affairs was the first to pitch the idea to faculty on the Affordability Task Force, as well as other members of the SGA Executive Committee.
“Textbooks and other course materials are a cost that most students have to absorb without the help of financial aid, scholarships, or other financial resources, and can strain a student’s budget at a time when tuition bills are due and other costs are adding up,” said Harman.
The guidelines for the application were decided on by the SGA Executive Committee before the end of the fall 2022 semester, to allow for more time to advertise the program to students before the spring semester began.
Harman said that the idea behind micro-scholarships and the specific amount decided, besides helping students pay for books and materials, was to provide scholarships to more students while also still giving an amount of money that would still be helpful.
Alison Novak, one of the co-chairs of the Affordability Task Force said that the university also has the textbook alternative program, which allows professors to create their own textbooks for classes to reduce costs to students, in an attempt to make the affordability efforts more proactive.
“The Affordability Task Force is a group on campus that’s really concerned with all aspects of student finances, and affordability issues… how much you can get out of college because it impacts how much attention you can give college, it can affect your ability to feel fulfilled while you’re there. Your quality of life is really contingent on that,” said Novak of the importance of the Affordability Task Force and the programs it contributes to.
SGA received 863 applications for the micro-scholarships and 136 applications for the scholarships offered in the fall semester, as Harman said that though the number of applications that SGA will receive can be difficult to predict, an increased number of requirements for the applications will lead to fewer applications being submitted.
“I would love if this program sparked a larger conversation about affordability among students, faculty, and administrators across campus. While the program is a step in the right direction, college affordability is a larger issue that requires long-term solutions,” said Harman.
Another round of SGA scholarships has been announced for later in the semester, though it will be essay based. Monetary amounts, essay questions and due dates have yet to be decided and announced.
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