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Scholarship Fair aims to make finding college funding easier

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Many students know and confront the harsh reality of college costs. However, many students don’t yet know much about DePaul’s primary resource for locating scholarships.

The Office of Financial Aid and the Student Government Association (SGA) collaborated to change that.

The second annual DePaul Scholarship Fair will give students an opportunity to learn about Scholarship Connect in what SGA hopes will be an even more accessible environment than last year.

“The scholarship fair started last year. While it was successful, we want to build upon it so it can become more inclusive and diverse,” SGA Treasurer and Student Activity Fee Board (SAF-B) Chair Damian Wille said.

Associate Director of Scholarship in the Office of Financial Aid Amy Moncher runs Scholarship Connect with her scholarship team. Wille works with Scholarship Connect as part of his SGA initiative for educational accessibility.

The fair will highlight Scholarship Connect, a program through which students can locate relevant internal and external scholarships. There will also be a raffle, free food, games, and an ID swipe opportunity to win a $500 scholarship.

The $500 scholarship provides incentive to swipe in, but students who do so will also receive a personalized email from the Office of Financial Aid letting them know for which specific scholarships they may be eligible, and how to find external scholarships.

“The fair will address issues of understanding when scholarships are available and the research process in general,” Moncher said.

Representatives from the Office of Financial Fitness, the Career Center, SGA and college offices at tables will tell students about the 2016-17 scholarship application dates. The information is also available on Scholarship Connect.

“This is really an awareness fair for the scholarship program,” Wille said. “The core message is to highlight Scholarship Connect.”

An improvement from last year, the fair will feature representatives from each college on both campuses to better help students locate “custom-tailored, relevant opportunities,” Wille said.

Between colleges, their departments, and student affairs departments, “we service over 60 departments across the university, with everything from getting scholarships onto the tool, going through the review process, and posting the scholarships,” Moncher said, adding, “We manage the process from beginning to end.”

“From an SGA perspective, it’s so exciting to highlight such a useful, transparent tool,” Wille said.

On Scholarship Connect, students can sign in with their Campus Connect IDs and fill out a short general application. It includes questions like “What is your heritage?” and “Are you the first person in your immediate family to attend college?” The portal also strongly recommends students upload a copy of their unofficial transcript.

The portal features DePaul scholarships and external scholarships. It also emphasizes recommended scholarships to show which ones the system thinks eligibility is met.

Students can search scholarships by keyword or filter them by college, making it “convenient to use,” as Wille said.

According to Wille, for the 2014-15 school year, the scholarship team at DePaul processed over 3,700 internal scholarships and awards from university departments for almost $18 million given to students. Additionally, it processed over 1,200 external scholarships adding up to close to $3 million.

“The resources are there. The scholarship team is a central place to ask any kind of questions. I want students to always know where to go, how to research the scholarships, and how the process actually works. Knowing how the process works manages expectations,” Moncher said. “We are supporting our college offices and departments as the nucleus of the entire process for all colleges. We are a guide in making this process as smooth as possible for students.”

The fairs will be Thursday, April 21 from 10 am to 2 pm in the Lincoln Park Student Center atrium and Thursday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 11th floor of the DePaul Center, Loop Campus.

Event updates can be found on Facebook and DePaul Central.

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Scholarship Fair aims to make finding college funding easier