Departments work together to solve scholarship disbursement problems

Scribble, white out, and crumble.

Say goodbye to the scholarship application paper wad mountains, Scholar X is up and running.

“This is a really “green” way of doing business. No more paper applications at various departments, no more running all over trying to get multiple letters of recommendation, and even the awarding process is becoming more electronic with less paper usage,” Paula Turner said.

A letter from the CHSS department said scholarships and their disbursement at SHSU have been somewhat fragmented. The financial aid office said this is because there has not been, until recently, a campus wide process for awarding scholarships.

“The Scholar X program is intended to deal with this problem,” Tony Abshire and Jerry Bruce of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences said.

“We live in a competitive market where other universities are making student scholarship and financial aid information in a more efficient manner, providing information early and in one place.”

The disbursement problem left delays in the system, which resulted in student’s paying back financial aid.

“At SHSU, information has come from a variety of sources and the student has the task of adding all the pieces together. Some students have received a scholarship only to learn that now they must pay back Financial Aid some of the money they had been given,” Abshire and Bruce said.

Turner clarified scholarships aren’t paid back, but some funds are applied to certain types of loans.

“No one has to pay a scholarship back. Certain types way is through Tuition Revenue Bonds which the state of Texas pays for,” President Gaertner said. “There are also Higher Education Assistance Funds (HEAF) which are monies given to the university that can be used for a limited number of things, and one of them is new buildings. Some we can just sell bonds and repay the bonds, for example with the new dormitories, we can sell bonds and then the rent the of loans require if a student receives a scholarship, that those funds be applied to the loan. The student may have not needed that extra aid if the scholarship award had been received sooner, and those funds could have gone to another student with need.” Turner said.

The Scholar X program was initiated as a first step in improving this process and alleviating the pain of the disbursement problem. The plan is to centralize information and make it available to students in one place and in a timely manner.

This means students no longer have to research and try to figure out what they qualify for; the scholarship software does that for them.

“Based on the student’s answers on the application, they are then matched electronically to the scholarships they qualify for. No more lost applications or letters of recommendation. Everything is stored electronically,” Turner said.

Financial Aid has been given the task of collecting scholarship information and informing the students of their total financial package.

“This is particularly important for freshmen who are deciding where they are going to school,” Abshire and Bruce said.

Turner said there is anticipation for an earlier awarding cycle with the use of the Scholar X program.

“Our goal is to award student scholarships or ‘free money’ sooner, so they can make better financial decisions about loans and alternative tuition funding,” Turner said.

There is a priority date of Feb. 1, 2010, for the application to be completed and submitted by; students that have applied up to Feb. 1 will be given first consideration for scholarships.

“Students applying after Feb. 1 still have an excellent chance for scholarship opportunities, but not as many opportunities,” Turner said.

This is the fourth year that Scholar X has been used. The first users of Scholar X were Academic Affairs, Alumni Relations, College of Education and College of Criminal Justice for the purpose of a better scholarship process.

“It’s the old adage ‘There’s got to be a better way.’ Scholar X answered that question,” Turner said.

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