UCC Mainstream Online

Free money available for college but students must act quickly

Chris Potter, Flickr
The average student debt now stands at $30,000, a burden that the UCC Foundation is trying to prevent through a plethora of scholarship options.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are now available to Umpqua Community College students in the form of scholarships available through UCC’s Foundation. However, the deadline is quickly approaching. Foundation scholarships are due by 11:58 p.m., March 9.

Scholarships are, in essence, “free money” awarded to students based on conditions. Some scholarships are given to those who can show financial need; others are rewarded based on merit and good academic standing.

“Scholarships are an increasingly important way to help pay for education.  With the average student loan debt reaching nearly $30,000, scholarships provide a way to leave college without the burden of paying back student loans,” Krista Johnson, scholarship and donor relations coordinator, said.

Currently, UCC has scholarships from over 100 funds awaiting student applications. Some funds offer just one scholarship while others offer over 50.

Students who shy away from scholarships, thinking they’re just for elite scholars, should think again. Although eligibility varies depending upon individual scholarships, general eligibility for most scholarships simply requires students to attend UCC in the 2015-16 academic year and have a minimum GPA of 2.0.

Most scholarships will require the completion of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To fill out the FAFSA, students may visit http://fafsa.ed.gov  or find the link on UCC’s website at http://umpqua.edu/scholarships.

Many scholarships also request a list of academic achievements, work experience, and extracurricular activities. Involvement within and giving back to the community weighs favorably in scholarship judging.

Students looking for some financial assistance with their tuition should check all of their scholarship options. UCC provides three main avenues for scholarships: UCC Foundation scholarships, Outside scholarships and merit award or tuition waivers.

Foundation scholarships offer monetary gifts for many fields of study and range from a minimum of $100 to full ride opportunities. To apply, students need to access the one all-inclusive application, “UCC Foundation Scholarship” available online only at http://www.umpqua.edu/scholarships. This application must be used for nearly all UCC Foundation Scholarships. Instructions for applying can be located at http://www.umpqua.edu/scholarships right above the Apply Now! Button.

While filling out the application is not difficult, students must be aware of some key roadblocks. “One of the areas many students get scored down on is the references section.  Student’s recommendations must also be submitted by the deadline.  Students really need to follow up with the people completing the recommendations and continue to check their application to make sure they [the recommendations] have been submitted.  Recommendations from family are not accepted, and we strongly recommend against using friends.  They need to be professional references,” Johnson said.

Outside scholarships are also available through the UCC Scholarships website: http://www.umpqua.edu/scholarships/outside-scholarships. Each of these outside agencies may likely require students to complete a community-specific application.

Outside scholarships provide opportunities for students to receive monetary aid through the community’s generosity. Each application requires different criteria for eligibility and each must be filled out individually. Deadlines also differ based on each scholarship, so students in need should check often with the Foundation office, located in UCC’s Technology Building.

Merit awards and tuition waivers are also available to students with various interests, talents and abilities. The Mainstream student newspaper, Umpqua Athletics, Umpqua Singers and UCC Scholars all provide merit awards or tuition waivers. Some merit awards pay for full tuition and most require students to maintain minimum credit loads per term. For more information on merit awards, students can contact Ann Abel at,
(541) 440-4621.

To find state scholarships, students can also access the Oregon Student Access Commission. The OSAC application must be filled out at http://www.oregonstudentaid.gov and the application process closes March. 1. This application is for all Oregon students pursuing postsecondary education.

Additional links with helpful resources can be found on the scholarship website at http://www.umpqua.edu/scholarships/scholarship-forms. Any questions regarding scholarships may be directed to Johnson by phone at (541) 440-7674 or email at Krista.Johnson@umpqua.edu.