Scholarships Are an Important Source of College Funding for Students

Already saddled with the woes of a troubled economy, today’s students seem to be hit from all sides. Moody’s Investor Services reports that the economic outlook for higher education is down, and recent troubles in the student loan industry have not subsided. Always an important funding source, scholarships become even more crucial in tough economic times.

Buffalo State awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to incoming and returning students during the 2007–2008 academic year. Of the 661 newly awarded and continuing scholarships, about $440,000 came from the operating budget, while the remainder came from private donations.

Some scholarships, like the President’s, Provost’s, and new Dean’s Scholarship, are awarded based on academic merit. Students must apply for the rest, and committees select recipients. In either case, the Financial Aid Office notifies students of their eligibility for awards.

There are dozens of scholarships offered directly through Buffalo State. Some are for particular academic departments; some have specific guidelines as dictated by charitable donors. Others are made possible by the generosity of faculty and staff. Monday’s annual Golf and Tennis Scholarship Classic will support the All College Honors Program, and the Faculty and Staff Appeal supports general scholarships such as Bridge the Gap, the scholarship fund for junior and senior students with financial need.

Kent McGowan, director of financial aid, knows that some scholarships reward academic performance. But he said some are designed to serve a greater purpose: recruiting and retaining students.

“There are limits to the aid that’s available. Our students need money to attend college,” McGowan said. “When more scholarships are available, we can provide greater access for those wishing to attend Buffalo State and potentially boost our academic profile by attracting higher-caliber students.”

The Financial Aid Office has a section of its Web site devoted to scholarships. It is updated frequently with information about external scholarships, which are categorized by type and deadline date. Patricia Ghee, scholarship coordinator, also is available to help students with applications and essays.

McGowan encourages faculty and staff members to direct students to the scholarship Web site to check for updates each month.

“Someone’s going to get the scholarship money,” said McGowan. “It ought to be our students.”