Human resources management major Sophia Gallardo, now a senior, is taking a look back on her freshman year and the financial opportunities she missed. Having to pay her own way through college, Gallardo works over the summer and during the school year to pay tuition, and whatever she does not make, she takes out in student loans.
By graduating from high school in Idaho, Gallardo was able to receive the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship through the State Board of Education. Gallardo was unaware the scholarship was available to her and did not fill out the required application to receive financial aid.
“I didn’t know what I was doing, kind of going into it blindly. I didn’t really have a lot of help,” Gallardo said. “I just kind of thought, ‘Oh, well it can’t be that hard,’ and so I applied and then I got the scholarship.”
Gallardo took out a loan her freshman year for a larger amount than she hoped she would have to. Since receiving the scholarship, she has not had to take out a loan for that much again. The recipient of the scholarship requires a 2.7 GPA or above and must attend an eligible Idaho university, along with the other posted criteria.
Yazmin Zalazar, assistant director for athletic aid and scholarships, said the department has been targeting resident students with an email alerting them with the opportunity to apply for the scholarship for the last two years.
“We email and say, ‘Hey, that data by the application is available. Here’s our criteria to be qualified to apply for it,’” Zalazar said. “We don’t make the selection of those students, so it’s all for the state board.”
Resident scholarships include the Presidential, Dean and True Blue Promise scholarship, and the non-resident scholarships are the GEM, WUE and Treasure scholarship. Only incoming freshmen are eligible for these scholarships, accepted through the admissions process and need a specific GPA and test score.
Aidan McConnehey, a freshman mechanical engineering major, lived in Calif. where he was eligible for the WUE scholarship. The WUE pays for 150% of in-state tuition, saving students almost $12,886. McConnehey wanted to attend a college out-of-state but that option out of the question for him without a scholarship. WUE offered the opportunity for him.
“It’s definitely important to have scholarships at universities for students for multiple reasons,” McConnehey said. “For me, it was definitely a shot at this school and that’s my biggest thing with the WUE. It is what brought my attention to Boise State.”
Through Boise State, there are academic-based scholarships in specific departments on campus that are funded through donors. A student must meet certain criteria for those scholarships that a donor and the department set.
An application and a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has to be submitted for students to be eligible to be awarded Boise State scholarships. Each year, the number ranges in the number of recipients and the total number of funds. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the university awarded $45 million of Boise State scholarships and a little over $8.6 million in outside and private scholarships, according to Zalazar.
“If a student graduated from the Sociology department they may come back as an alumnus wanting to fund a scholarship in the Sociology department,” Zalazar said. “Having scholarships for each department is important as it could help the department grow and maintain its students.”
If a student does not claim their award, the next person to have qualified will receive the funds, according to Zalazar. Most students that do not accept their scholarship do not meet certain criteria, such as not being enrolled full-time. Scholarships that are specific to a department and set up by a donor sometimes go unclaimed due to not enough students applying or meeting the criteria.
“The school offers you the resources,” Gallardo said. “So we should definitely take advantage of them. But at the same time, you should be able to advocate for yourself and seek out those resources, which I think partially failed to do my freshman year, but it was also a lack of information that I think I was receiving from my school.”
Although students may feel they are unqualified for certain scholarships, applying for competitive scholarships can be worth listing on a future resume for employers to see. The funds from scholarships can aid students in staying enrolled and receiving the education they want.