News You Can Use: There’s Still Time to Apply for UIS Scholarships

Carolyn Schloemann--Acting Director of Financial Assistance at UIS
Carolyn Schloemann–Acting Director of Financial Assistance at UIS

 

Within the next few months, UIS will award students more than 150 scholarships worth more than $350,000. Last year, students in online degree programs received 11 out of 157 scholarships,  for a total of $16,200.

There’s still time to apply for next year’s scholarships.

Here is some information that might help with your application.

 

How to apply: First steps in getting a scholarship

  1. Complete the UIS scholarship application.
    UIS posted a UIS Institutional Scholarship Application for 2016-2017 in early December. The deadline is Monday, February 15, 2016, so there’s still time to get your application in.
  2. Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Application for the 2016-2017 academic year as soon as possible. You’ll need three items:
    • The Federal School Code for UIS—009333;
    • An FSA ID for yourself and for at least one of your parents if you are a dependent student. You (and your parent, if necessary) can create an FSA ID online. This government website will help you determine whether you are a dependent student or not.
    • Your 2014 or 2015 federal tax information (or your parents’ information if you are a dependent student).

Don’t I need to finish my 2015 tax return before I can complete my 2016-2017 FAFSA application? “No,” says Carolyn Schloemann, Acting Director for the UIS Office of Financial Assistance. “You can either estimate your 2015 earnings or, better yet, complete the form using your 2014 tax return and then update the information once your 2015 return is complete.”

 

Tips for getting a scholarship

1. Apply.

Perhaps you have taken a quick glance through the list of scholarships and think you don’t qualify for any of them, especially as a student in an online degree program or because your major doesn’t have any targeted scholarships.

But the donors who have given these UIS scholarships often choose other criteria—students involved in service, who want to study abroad, who are disabled or demonstrate academic excellence or leadership. Several scholarships can go to any undergraduate student.

So you can’t be sure you won’t qualify for a scholarship. Please, take the time to complete the application.

 

2. Spend a little extra time on your “brief personal narrative.”

The application gives you 750 to 1,000 words to identify your “specific characteristics such as personal, educational, and vocational goals, as well as awards, honors, volunteer work, community involvement and activities.”

In this narrative, try to share your passion for learning, why you are taking UIS classes, your hopes for the future and why you are willing to sacrifice your time and energy to complete your degree. Why you decided to attend UIS and why you chose your major are especially important.

Remember, as well, that a “narrative” is a story and everyone loves stories. If you are excited about your education, show that excitement through brief accounts of how you developed your ambition for a certain field, what happened in your life to inspire a certain career, the people in your life who help to drive your hard work. If you have a special need for a scholarship, share that need with specific examples, as well.

 

3. Try to cover all the criteria you might qualify for.

As mentioned, donors can choose the criteria for their scholarships, and you might be among only a few applicants who qualify for certain scholarships.

The UIS Institutional Scholarship Application asks questions throughout the application that help discover whether you might qualify for these scholarships, so be sure and answer all the questions. If you answer yes to any of these questions (such as intending to be an educator or having been a patient at St. Jude’s), give a little extra information on this topic in your narrative.

The Application also has a section that lists scholarships that require additional materials or a secondary application, such as for nursing, global experience, visual arts or athletics. One of our scholarships requires five writing samples; a music scholarship requires an audio, video or audition sample.

To learn more about criteria, use the Scholarship Database or look through the UIS Scholarship Details, both described above.

 

The process by which recipients are chosen for scholarships

 Once you submit your application—

  • The Financial Aid Office checks to see the application is complete and the FAFSA form has been submitted properly.
  • The Financial Aid Office then sorts the applications based on scholarship criteria. Donors get to choose what kind of student will be given preference for their scholarships. Criteria might include plans to study abroad, a student’s career plans, where the student comes from, if the student is disabled, and many other characteristics. In case you are wondering, yes, students can qualify for one or more scholarships, each with different criteria.

How does the Financial Aid Office know if I fit a scholarship’s criteria? From the application questions, which address many of the criteria, and from your personal narrative. You can learn more about the specific scholarships and their criteria by looking through the UIS Scholarship Details 2016-2017 (pdf) or using the UIS Scholarship Database Search 2016-2017. This may help you know what details to include in your personal narrative.

  • The Financial Aid Office sends the applications to the appropriate college, degree or other unit scholarship committee. Members of these committees read all the applications and decide how many students will receive a specific scholarship and how much the award will be. They send their recommendations back to the Financial Aid Office.

How much are the scholarship awards? These vary from under $500 up to $10,000, but most range from $1,000 to $2,500.

  • After double checking that students do, in fact, meet the criteria for a scholarship, the Financial Aid Office starts letting students know they have been awarded a scholarship.
  • Students must complete an acceptance packet that includes answers to some additional questions and a thank you letter written to the donor or the donor’s representative.
  • The scholarship is awarded. Students do not actually receive the scholarship until after the 11th day of the fall semester—at which time the FA Office checks again that students still qualify and are actually enrolled at UIS.

How do students get the money? Generally the scholarship award is deposited into a student’s account at UIS, half in the fall semester and half in the spring.

 

For more information on UIS scholarships, check out the Financial Assistance scholarship website or the UIS Financial Assistance website where you’ll find contact information for the Office of Financial Assistance.