This year's UAF wide scholarship application asks for new information

Elika Roohi/Sun Star Reporter
February 19, 2013

The Financial Aid Office hosted Thank A Doner Day in the Wood Center Ballroom last Thursday, February 14, 2013. Students that received scholarships stopped by during the day and wrote thank you cards to the organizations that had sponsored their scholarships. Elika Roohi/Sun Star

The Financial Aid Office hosted Thank A Doner Day in the Wood Center Ballroom last Thursday, February 14, 2013. Students that received scholarships stopped by during the day and wrote thank you cards to the organizations that had sponsored their scholarships. Elika Roohi/Sun Star

Students who logged onto UAOnline in the last few weeks to complete scholarship applications were met with a new application than the one they’ve seen in past years.  The new application requires several more pieces of demographic information and four 300 word essays on specific subjects, rather than a broad 500 word essay.

“I usually just copy and pasted my previous year’s response and update it slightly,” said Noah Betzen, a sophomore Computer Science student.  “This year I had to completely rewrite stuff.”

According to Julie Parshall, the Associate Director of the Financial Aid Office, the new essay questions were included to make the application more clear.  Parshall said the 500 word essay was very broad, and there were some students who struggled with that.  “They weren’t quite sure what we were looking for,” Parshall said. “We decided that if we asked more specific questions it would help students out.”

The essay most students seem to be struggling with is the one that asks students how they plan to give back to UAF after they graduate.

“It almost seems like we are in a vulnerable position,” said Jaenell Manchester, a Geology student.  “If we say ‘Heck no, I hate UAF’ then does that mean we won’t get scholarships?”

Other students said they felt like they had to make things up when answering the question about their own future contributions.

Parshall said that particular question was suggested by the Development Office and the Alumni Office.  “They want to see students having a tie to UAF that’s going to extend beyond graduation,” Parshall said.

The groups that review the scholarship applications aren’t looking for anything particular, according to Parshall.  Just that students have given their application some thought and have a plan.

The new demographic questions were included even though that information is available on the FAFSA and in the students’ records.  However, student records aren’t always up to date, and not all students fill out the FAFSA.  So the Financial Aid Office decided to put the questions directly on the scholarship application, according to Parshall.

About 1,600 students submitted the scholarship application last year according to the Financial Aid Office.  Of those 1,600 students, two thirds had completed their fafsa.  Parshall said it’s beneficial to complete your FAFSA, but not necessary.  It’s only used for scholarships based on financial need, which is about 25 percent of all the scholarships, Parshall said.

The scholarship application is always getting tweaked, and students shouldn’t expect to see the same application every year.  The Financial Aid Office encourages all students to spend some time working on their applications ever year.  The deadline for this year’s applications was last Friday, Feb. 15.

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