Applying for scholarships is now easier

AK Pachla, Reporter

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Applying for scholarships at Bakersfield College may have never been easier.  Beginning last year, the BC Office of Financial Aid moved the scholarship application process out of the file cabinet and into the future with an online application system.

The system is familiar enough, asking for basic information about students’ majors, financial need, and community or military service, as well as a short essay from each applying student on why they, the students, would be considered a deserving candidate.

Once a student’s information is entered, the scholarship system matches that student against hundreds of scholarship opportunities and submits the application automatically to each one.

This contrasts with the previous, office-based process, where students had to submit information and then return repeatedly to check on the progress of the application, in turn generating a great deal of time and labor intensive manual file work for the Financial Aid department.

“There was just so much more room for human error… this definitely makes the process go quicker,” said Pita Montes, financial aid technician.

As for how easy the switch has been for students, Reagen Dozier, the department assistant for the Office of Financial Aid, says it’s gone smoothly and that students are “completing it, no issue.  It’s more on the reference side.”

Dozier refers to an issue some faculty has encountered when their computer setup is incompatible with the scholarship application system.

Professors attempt to access the site to submit references for students only to get an error page that tells them to upgrade their browser

While both Dozier and Montes recognize that circumstances, such as the one described above may cause students’ applications to be late, but insist that the Dec. 18 deadline must stay firm.

“That’s why the scholarship applications are due the week after finals,” said Dozier.  For students who may be encountering problems with obtaining references, she suggests swapping out references.  If one professor is too swamped, perhaps try another.

This issue, however, is small compared to the benefit of having the scholarship application process streamlined.

With enrollment increasing year on year, the number of scholarship applications has gone up as well.

Last year, Financial Aid processed around 900 scholarship applications.  This year, there have already been more than a thousand submissions with two weeks still to go before the deadline.

Without the paper shuffle, though, the Financial Aid office can act fully as a student service and not split time as a filing service.

Of the thousand submissions, more than half are still undrafted, meaning they are incomplete.  Freed from file cabinets, Financial Aid staff are able to engage in “a huge push to get everyone to completed status,” Dozier said.

With phone calls and emails, Financial Aid wants to make sure that every student who qualifies and applies gets an equal competitive opportunity.

There is still time for students to apply for the 2016-17-scholarship season, but they need to move on it now.  After the deadline, students will have to wait until next September and any undrafted applications left over this year will be lost.

To get in under the wire, students can go to the Financial Aid tab of their insideBC and follow the links for the online scholarship application program.

To find out more or ask questions, visit the Office of Financial Aid, or call 395-4428 for the Panorama campus office or 720-2000 for BC Financial Aid in Delano.

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