Students supplement cost of education through scholarships

By Felix Sarver

Sophomore psychology major Britani Peeples’ goal is to increase her GPA so she can apply for more scholarships.

“It helps me feel that I have what it takes to succeed and it shows my hard work has paid off,” Peeples said.

With the increasing costs of higher education, students should try to supplement their grants and loans as much as they can with scholarships, said Denise Hayman, director of the CHANCE program.

A scholarship can be useful when pursuing employment because it shows hard work and good academic standing, Hayman said.

“I think it would look impressive on a resume,” Peeples said. “It shows the employer you’re very successful in school.”

The Scholarship Office has a search engine on its website featuring over 400 scholarships, said Anne Hardy, director of the scholarship office, in an email. Students can input their year in school, GPA and major to receive a list of scholarships for which they might be eligible to apply.

Most scholarships may require a separate application and some may require an essay, Hardy said.

Students may not apply for a scholarship because they feel they can’t meet the requirements or don’t have the time, Peeples said.

Scholarships are not hard to apply for, Peeples said

“It’s just all about your persistence and determination,” she said.

Some scholarships listed online require only a 2.0 or 2.5 GPA, Peeples said.

The university does not have a problem with fewer students applying for scholarships, Hardy said. More than 2,300 students received scholarships in 2011.

Available scholarships are almost always awarded, and it is rare for a scholarship to not be awarded, Hardy said. NIU is committed to offering and awarding scholarships to students and does this job well.

When no one applies for a scholarship, departments can extend their deadline or make specific outreach to qualified students by encouraging them to apply, Hardy said. The money in a scholarship can be used the following year if a scholarship has still not been awarded.

Scholarships come to the NIU Foundation from generous donors, Hardy said. One of the goals of Vision 2020 is increasing the number of private gifts to the university.

Scholarships are a high priority for NIU, Hardy said. One way to recruit and retain students is through scholarships. President John Peter’s Vision 2020 sets the expansion of merit scholarships as an institutional goal, Hardy said.