Scholarship season: a breakdown

By Hannah Lee

The University of Puget Sound, like all private schools, is more expensive to attend than a state school. So how can students justify the cost of going to an expensive private university? One way to offset the cost is through scholarships.

Joan Potter, the scholarship coordinator for Student Financial Services, provides insight into the financial aid the University provides. She explained the difference between a grant and a scholarship, stating that “they’re both free money,” but that they “come from different sources.” Scholarships can be awarded by the University or come from outside forces, but grants are federal money given to students based on financial need.

There are many kinds of scholarships that Puget Sound students can be awarded. Potter explained that all incoming freshmen and transfer students are considered for a merit scholarship. “Every student is offered that based on their high school academic career,” Potter explained. There are also need-based scholarships that can change depending on the student’s FAFSA.

Potter also spoke about departmental scholarships: “There’s a list of the certain departments that have been awarded scholarships, selected by donors and they award scholarships to students in our majors.” There are also faculty-nominated scholarships that are awarded based on a nomination by a faculty member and reviewed by a committee. A complete list of all scholarships available to Puget Sound students can be viewed on the University scholarships webpage

Potter emphasized that all Puget Sound students receive a merit scholarship and that it would be unusual for a student to be enrolled in classes and not have some sort of scholarship. Potter said that this method was designed to reduce out-ofpocket costs; When a person applies to Puget Sound, the admissions team looks at their GPA, SAT or ACT scores, high school, and other parts of their application as well to determine which of the six or seven different levels of merit scholarships to award them. According to Potter, the University of Puget Sound gives merit scholarships to every student “because we believe every student that comes here demonstrates academic merit and we want to award that with a scholarship.” Transfer students are also awarded merit scholarships. Potter said, “All transfer students are evaluated just the same for that merit scholarship with the academic record that they come in with…they actually have a special transfer student scholarship that we have established. That gets awarded to incentivize those students to come.”

There are also outside scholarships that are specifically linked to donors. An example of one such scholarship that Potter mentioned is the Independent Colleges of Washington (ICW). Potter explained that “their organization sends us money, and then my office will look through to find out which one of our students are eligible.” Potter explained that in other cases, the outside organization will specifically select the student that they want to receive the award scholarship money. When it comes to athletics, Puget Sound is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 3 school. Potter clarified that as part of the Division 3 requirement, Puget Sound is not permitted to award athletic scholarships to students. However, there are resources available to student-athletes on how they can access athletic scholarships despite attending a Division 3 school. One available option is applying for athletic scholarships from outside the University.

Potter also spoke about the importance of applying for more scholarships during one’s time as a student. Not only does this method reduce tuition bills, Potter said, but receiving scholarships can build up a resume. She also noted that it was helpful to look back on if a student is having trouble paying for school because it proves that the student is working towards having less debt and that there has already been some action taken. Potter mentioned that scholarships and the current school budget crisis are not related. She stressed that scholarships have their own “earmarked operating budget.”