By Lydia Hansen
Are you a high school or PSEO student planning to attend RCTC, or a current student who’ll return next fall? Are you worried about paying for tuition, books, and other school-related expenses?
The RCTC Foundation offers numerous scholarships to incoming, returning and graduating students that make the path to success easier. For the 2016-2017 academic year, they awarded $285,000 in scholarship money to RCTC students and new graduates. Since Nov. 30, students have had the opportunity to apply for scholarships for the upcoming 2017-2018 academic year, but that opportunity ends at 4 p.m. on Feb. 10.
At that time, the scholarship portal will be closed, and the selection process will begin. Until then, anyone who intends to attend RCTC this coming fall and spring can log onto the scholarship portal from the RCTC website using their Star ID and password.
“If students need any kind of financial assistance to go to school, it’s in their best interest to go to the portal,” said Deb Ward, executive director of the RCTC Foundation.
The application process is simple. After logging into the scholarship portal, applicants fill out a general application containing various questions ranging from general high school information to their future academic and career goals. Most of the questions only need short responses between 100 and 500 words.
This general application can be used to apply for many of the Foundation scholarships, saving students the trouble of writing a new application for every scholarship. However, because the general application is often the only information students provide the scholarship committee in charge of selecting who will receive the scholarships, it’s important to put some effort into writing it.
“I think it’s really important to look at the questions now and give some thought to those questions,” Ward said. “I encourage students to write out those answers now and really look at them … That’s the kind of information that the reviewers want to know.”
Despite the simplicity of the application process, some of the 240 scholarships the Foundation offers annually go unawarded. Applications submitted either didn’t match the scholarship criteria, or were not received before the portal closed.
“A lot of students, when they hear the word scholarship, assume that means they have to have a 3.2 or perfect GPA, but that’s not the case,” Ward said. “Many scholarships have a minimum GPA of 2.0, and some don’t even have a GPA requirement.”
She also pointed out that there are scholarships available for people who are not in special programs like nursing, education, or one of the sciences. “We have so many scholarships, and they’re not all necessarily tied to a specific program … There are some that have nothing to do with your major. I think it’s worth checking.”
After the portal closes, a committee made up of community members, scholarship donors, and RCTC faculty and staff review the applications and score them.
Once selections have been made, the students will be contacted using their RCTC email address. Ward advises students who applied for scholarships to regularly check their email. “That’s how we get in touch with people.”
Students who have been selected for an RCTC scholarship are invited to the awards banquet on May 2.
Many scholarship donors attend this event, so it’s a way for them to meet the students who they are helping by providing these scholarships.
“I think it’s important that students realize that this opportunity is there,” Ward says.
She encourages all students to go to the scholarship portal, explaining “I also don’t think students necessary realize that the portal is only open now for this fall and the following spring. And unfortunately there are students who call or email and ask for scholarships because they need the help then, and there’s nothing we can do at that point because the process is already complete.”
But if you miss the window, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. External websites such as scholarships.com or fastweb.com can also be a source of scholarships. Additional resources and information can be found on the RCTC website or at the financial aid office.
Ward’s last piece of advice? “If you have any issues with the application process, feel free to call or email the Foundation office. They’re happy to help in any way they can.”