You have a dream: you want to go to college and study law enforcement, graphic design or maybe history. You try to do everything right to set aside as much money as you can but you still cant afford tuition. What you need is another option, but a fairy godmother doesnt exist and the lottery isnt a sure-thing. Student loans require you to repay them and that can take years. Where do you turn for financial options?
At the College of Southern Maryland, students can now use the CSM Scholarship Finder to apply for scholarships. The CSM Scholarship Finder is a quick, easy and free service that helps Southern Maryland students match their backgrounds and financial needs to dozens of local scholarships in a wide variety of academic programs.
According to many financial aid professionals, many scholarships go unawarded every year due to the failure of students to apply. Many students feel like they arent qualified to apply for scholarships or that it is a waste of time to apply because they think who is going to award me a scholarship? But if they never apply, they already failed themselves, said Joan Middleton, executive director of CSMs enrollment management team. Its an attitude we are looking to discourage, so we sought out an application program that would make it easier for students to find and apply for scholarships, and this does just that.
Students register at http://www.csmd.edu/Financial/Scholarships/ and use the online scholarship application system to answer questions pertaining to their education (such as high school, year of graduation, etc.), finances (income, work status), county residence, responsibilities (dependents, volunteer activities, etc.) and educational goals (intended major, program of study, projected graduation date, etc.). The system then takes the students answers and matches them to scholarships available only through the CSM Foundation.
We have seen a tremendous response already. Since it was introduced three weeks ago, more than 130 students have applied for 31 CSM Foundation scholarships posted on the site, said Toni Kruszka, executive assistant to the vice president of advancement. In the future, we hope to further streamline the scholarship application process by adding scholarships from other divisions and departments at CSM to the site.
What I like about the program is that students are guided directly to the local scholarships they are the most eligible for, thereby increasing the chances the students might receive an award. Students can apply for multiple scholarships with one unified application and they can apply at their convenience since the site operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Erika Abell, a financial assistance advisor in CSMs financial assistance department.
Everything students need to know about a CSM Foundation scholarship is right there on the site, including whether there are additional qualifications that need to be met or items that need to be completed such as an essay, Middleton said.
Once students have completed the application process and the deadline has passed the award committees meet to review the applications and score them. Applicants who receive the highest scores (for the criteria on which they are judged) will be awarded scholarships, said Abell, who noted that scholarship committees are comprised of faculty, staff and donors.
The CSM Scholarship Finder puts students in charge of their education and how they finance it and making that process easier is something we should all be proud of, Middleton said.
To use CSMs Scholarship Finder visit http://www.csmd.edu/Financial/Scholarships/. For information on scholarships and financial aid assistance at CSM call 301-934-7531 or 301-870-2309, Ext. 7531 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7531 for St. Marys County or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7531 for Calvert County..