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Wednesday, 11 February 2015 15:29

Scholarship applications a simple quick process at MHC could pay big dividends

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Not so long ago, it was an arduous process to apply for scholarships which included long printed application forms and writing monotonous essays.


Now, with the system the Medicine Hat College has in place for the last few  years, the most difficult job a student has to do is write a thank you note to the group or company sponsoring the scholarship or bursary.
At the college, all a student has to do is to fill in an online application form which takes as little as five minutes to do.
The application process for the upcoming Medicine Hat College school year officially runs from March 1 toMay 1 and the five minutes spent filling out the application allows a student to be eligible for numerous scholarships worth an eye-opening total of about $350,000.
Enter Connie Cash, student finance officer and whose Financial Aid Office is located on the main floor of the Centre Core building, beside the Employment and Career Centre.
She says people don’t understand today’s systems or protocols. The misconception is for high-school and college-age students think it’s a lot of extra work because they ask parents or older people who have been through the post-secondary system. It’s a lot easier now.
“The biggest misconception out there is that you have to be an A student to get all of the scholarships,” explains Cash, who adds that is not the case. “Just fill out the application on-line, then that information is extracted. I pull in all of that data and I do the rest of the work ... it’s really not that complicated. You really need to apply. What’s the harm in trying?
“It’s not your parents’ college.”
There is a different between scholarships and bursaries.
“Scholarships are on academic standing; bursaries are awarded according to financial need, while some awards are a combination of both academics and financial need.”
Cash says determination is based on need. When the student fills out the survey, it goes into a computer which determines the best matching criteria.
Cash says this eliminates any chance of suggestion of potential personal bias.
Anyone can apply as it’s based on a variety of criteria and not just. marks and financial need. Eligibility and what the person does are taken into consideration.
Cash says there are scholarships for single mothers, those who volunteer a lot, students from rural Saskatchewan and even one specifically for people from Jenner.
She says there are a few new scholarships including one which is for those entered in occupational health and safety programs as well as there is money available towards students who are geared towards Continuing Studies.
“The numbers are increasing for those who have financial need,” explains Cash. “The number of applications are increasing every year.”
For the Medicine Hat College on-line scholarship application for the academic year of 2014/15 there were a total of 820 applicants.
The college gave out approximately 340 awards (scholarships and bursaries) to 260 students for a total of around $300,000.
On a typical year, they may have about another 300 students qualify for athletic and Alberta Government scholarships for upwards of $500,000.  They screen and nominate eligible students so they are notified if they need them to complete an application so there is not a lot required of students during that process either.
The only requirement is the applicant has a Medicine Hat College student number. It doesn’t matter whether they are a full-time current student or they have officially applied, they just need the official student number.
Medicine Hat is unique in that it handles its applications in-house.
 “For a smaller institution, it’s actually easier as we are quite flexible in handling individual situations.”
For more background information visit: http://bit.ly/1j3DEYb and that will set up with a link to further scholarships and bursary descriptions.
Cash also helps in finding different loan options for students and what routes are best for the students.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor