Scholar X program simplifies scholarship process with one campus-wide application

There is a severely untapped student resource at Sam Houston State University, one that few students know about and even fewer use. It’s been around for the past three years, and it’s never had more than 1,000 applicants per semester. It offers free money to all students and all they have to do is apply. This resource is Scholar X, the university’s new scholarship awarding program, and according to Paula Turner of the Academic Scholarship department, “It’s your one stop-scholarship [spot].”

Scholar X, which is an on-line scholarship application available to all SHSU students, takes the information provided by the applicant and checks it against the criteria of every scholarship available at Sam Houston State. Once a student applies through this single application, they have applied for every scholarship on campus. All the stress is gone after the application is submitted; the responsibility then goes to the program.

The Academic Scholarship Department created the Scholar X application over three years ago in an effort to simplify the application process.

“It takes all the guesswork out of applying for scholarships,” Turner said.

The intricate software was Beta tested by most of the colleges on campus, particularly the Criminal Justice and Education schools. As of today, every college at SHSU is on Scholar X except for the Military Science College and Athletics.

As the online application is still young, it is not perfect and still can be refined. According to Turner, the department hopes more students use Scholar X so they can improve the process through the feedback they receive. The deadline for completing the Scholar X application is Feb. 15.

“All comments come straight to me and I read every single one,” Turner said. “We want this program to work, and work well.”

Participation with the Scholar X program only helps out the individual student, but the entire student body as the more applications are filled out, the more money is given away. With thousands of dollars going unawarded each semester, the new program will work to make sure less money stays in the bank and more money goes out to the students.

“Our goal is to award every penny every semester,” Turner said.

But for all its simplicity, there is a staggering amount of students that haven’t used the new software. Out of a campus of over 16,000 students, about 1,200 start the application, and less than 1,000 take the time to finish it every semester. Gone are the days when a Bearkat needs to run all over campus from department to department, picking up paper applications and finding letters of recommendation. Now everything is consolidated into one convenient spot. Yet only a small number apply, and a huge amount of funds goes unawarded.

Turner said that one reason students don’t apply could be that they think they don’t have a chance against so many competitors. Yet Turner said she hopes that Scholar X will break that mindset.

“We don’t want students thinking ‘I’m not smart enough’ or ‘I’m not poor enough.’ We have scholarships for everyone,” Turner said.

Within the application, there are scholarships based on more factors than just GPA or financial need. Scholarship requirements range from first generation college students and war veterans to native Texans and a variety of other categories.

The Academic Scholarship department also plans to provide links to legitimate search programs outside of Scholar X, to guide students who would like to supplement their Scholar X awards.

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