There are more than 250 scholarships available for the 2012–13 academic year, and applications are due next week, on Feb. 1.
These are the general university scholarships, the largest category of scholarships at Portland State, which include the Presidential and Oregon Laurels Scholarships. Other scholarships offered through various academic departments and the PSU Foundation may have later deadlines. For example, the ethnic-based scholarships offered through the Foundation are due on Mar. 15, 2012. The main graduate application closes on April 2, 2012.
“Only a few hundred students have finished and submitted either one, but this is normal,” wrote scholarship accountant Jennifer Ochsner Halford in an email. “Usually this number increases significantly in the last week before the application is due.”
The categories of general university scholarships include academic achievement, major and career choices, financial need, first generation student status, diverse and unique backgrounds, school and community service, and leadership skills.
James Ofsink, assistant director of financial aid, said in an email that “the qualifications vary by scholarship and type, from strength or potential in a specific major to coming from a certain high school, and many more. At a minimum, all scholarships require completion of the application form.”
Last year, the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, distributed over $1.2 million in scholarships from several departments. According to Ofsink, it is anticipated that closer to $1.5 million will be rewarded this year, although the awarding for 2012–13 has not yet begun yet The amount awarded and number of applicants has increased slowly over the past few years.
According to Halford, the majority of scholarship funding is from endowments and annual pledges from donors, which makes the amount of money available for awards impacted by the economy and the market. “Our endowments have not had a great return the last few years, so the amount we can award yearly is not increasing the way we would like,” said Halford.
The amount of scholarship awards range, on average, from $250 to $7,500. The average amount is between $1,500 and $2,000 per year. “For a full-time undergraduate resident, that would be nearly one-third of tuition charges,” Halford said. “Every dollar counts, and of course, scholarship funds are free funds. The student only has to invest the time to complete the application.”
More than 500 graduate and 2,300 undergraduate applications were submitted last year. “The scholarships are competitive, but not all in the same way,” Ofsink said. “Scholarships look for different things, so it’s not just GPA and a history of volunteering that will win a scholarship for a student. Some scholarships are looking for specific interests or courses of study that narrow down the number of eligible applicants significantly.”
Some scholarships receive little attention and therefore aren’t awarded each year, like the Helen Oliver Memorial Scholarship, which is for undergraduates approaching graduation who “demonstrate promise of being a responsible and mature civic leader with good character and a dedicated spirit.” Applications are available in paper at the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.
Other scholarships are awarded based on certain criteria, like the ethnic-based scholarships awarded through the PSU foundation. The Daniel and Laura Brose Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to graduate students in a program within the Fariborz Maseeh Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Priority is given to those of Asian descent.
The Dolores and Fernando Leon Family Scholarship is for undergraduates of Hispanic or Latino descent who are pursing “a course of study leading to a health care career, and who are in need of financial assistance.”
The Kayo Uchida Sato Memorial Scholarship is for ethnic minority undergraduates entering the fields of math or natural science. Recipients are chosen by their academic achievement and financial need.
Some students, like political science junior Michael Collins, have already applied for scholarships. “I applied for the general one that applies you for the large amount of scholarships,” he said.
Other students, like junior environmental sciences major Erik Andersen, and senior public health major Lacey Corak, have secured funds for the upcoming year and does not need to apply for scholarships.
Not all students are as fortunate to have secured funds, and need to apply for scholarships. Junior economics major Kevin Thomas is one of the many students who face the issue of relying on financial aid and scholarships to pay for their education. “The school deemed me an out of state resident,” Thomas said. “I need all the money I can get.”
“[Students should] plan ahead and be sure to spend enough time on the application to accurately reflect their potential,” Ofsink said. “If a student is having trouble with an essay or wants some advice there are numerous places on campus that can help with scholarship applications, including our office.”
This year, the management of scholarships was transferred to the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships; students must now go there for questions. Other changes include notifying students of awards in March instead of April, and if possible, students will be given all of their different kinds of funding at the same time.
For more information, students should go to www.pdx.edu/scholarships or visit the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships in the lobby of Neuberger Hall. The general university application is completed online and it requires completion of a few essays that must be completed by Feb. 1. The general application also requires two or more letters of recommendation that need to be submitted online by Feb. 8. Only online copies of the letters will be accepted–no email or paper copies.