SGA helping to finance students’ education

Adrian Suarez Avila/ Staff Writer
adrian.suarezavila@fiusm.com

Monica Alarcon, a sophomore finance major, was troubled by her financial situation when she wasn’t awarded any scholarships at the beginning of the semester.

“I applied for a couple scholarships, but I wasn’t fortunate enough to get them,” said Alarcon. “I had to settle on loans.”

But now students like Alarcon can get a second chance.

With an extra $100,000 in their hands, the Student Government Association has decided to put the money towards providing scholarships for students.

The money comes from accumulated interest from the Activity and Service fee, a $12.87 per-credit-hour charge taken from student tuition, according to Jose Toscano, Director of Campus Life.

Available to both undergraduate and graduate students, the scholarships range in categories and amounts.

For example, students can apply for scholarship awards between $500 and $1000, and some categories include the SGA excellence scholarship, the patriot, international, law and medical student scholarships.

One scholarship is specifically for single parents, a fact that Toscano attributes to the University’s uniqueness.

“It’s just a different population that we have here [at FIU],” said Toscano. “And I just think it’s a great opportunity to address that need.”

This idea dates as far back as two year ago, according to Michelle Castro, assistant director of Campus Life and SGA Advisor, when past SGA leaders noted the need to award merit- and need-based scholarships, and insisted on the categories that are available this year.

While some of the scholarships have very particular requirements, some just require your name and a reference; others require official documentation or a supplementary personal statement.

Undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours and maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 and graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credit hours and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3.

Although the scholarships are being sponsored by SGA, members of the organization will not be evaluating applications.

After the Oct. 15 deadline, a committee composed of around 45 faculty and staff members appointed by the deans of the University and directors of different departments, will meet to evaluate the applications, according to Rebekah Schulze, Director of the Office of Scholarships & Fellowships.

The committee has three weeks to evaluate applications.

In reviewing the applications, members of the screening committee make use of a rubric that ranks various components of the application, including GPA, students’ leadership potential, and personal statements, according to Schulze.

Once all of the applications have been reviewed, the committee will convene before the end of the semester to vote, discussing the qualitative aspects of the students’ applications.

“[The committee members will] start to bring in the human side, and their perspective of what they think makes the applicant a good recipient for the scholarship,” Schulze said.

When it comes time to vote, the student who receives the majority of the votes cast will receive the scholarship for which he or she applied.

In the unlikely case of a tie Schulze will hold the final decision.

Students who receive the scholarships will be able to make use of the money during the following spring and summer semesters, an opportunity that isn’t common.

According to Schulze, most scholarships don’t offer money to cover expenses for the summer semester.

Students who aren’t able to apply for this round of scholarships may apply for the University-wide scholarship, which opens in February 2015.

Students may apply for the SGA scholarships by the Oct. 15 deadline by visiting fiu.academicworks.com and entering ‘Student Government Association scholarships’ in the search bar.

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