SGA debates new criteria for student scholarship

The Student Government Association debated potential criteria for a senior scholarship they hope to award next year.

At its weekly Tuesday meeting, SGA discussed lowering the GPA requirement and awarding the scholarship on a need-basis to make it more accessible for students. SGA previously debated giving the scholarship solely to student leaders at the college. The student activities fee will fund the scholarship in part.  SGA plans to establish new criteria by the semester’s end to award the scholarship next year, according to Executive Treasurer Ian Mandt.  

SGA did not vote to finalize the scholarship during its meeting.

SGA members discussed lowering the GPA requirement from 3.33 to 2.7 and making the scholarship more need-based than merit-based. They also debated whether students should demonstrate leadership at an Emerson-based organization and whether students should apply or be nominated.

“There are barriers that we don’t even think of because no one really understands what another person’s college process is like,” Transfer Student Commissioner Melissa Bordelon said.

The Executive Board said students should not consider the scholarship as part of the college’s efforts to make the college more affordable.

“This should in no way be in lieu of the college looking into more aid,”  Executive President Jessica Guida said.

The senior scholarship continues a 2008 grant created for student leaders. However, it remained inactive due to ethical concerns surrounding the selection process.

Previously, SGA members participated in the selection process—which potentially allowed bias. Part of the ethical dilemma resided in the fact that students are not allowed to view each other’s financial information.

“We want to open [the scholarship] to any form of leadership … and we want to make sure it goes to people who need it the most,” Mandt said.

Over the summer, the Executive Board met with representatives of the Office of Financial Aid, Office of Institutional Advancement, and SGA Advisor Sharon Duffy to discuss funding.

Last year, SGA decided to increase the money available for the scholarship by using the student’s activities fee—an $800 semesterly charge to all undergraduate students.

SGA voted to allocate $25,000 of leftover money to this scholarship fund last year. They use the money in the scholarship account, called the principal fund, as aid. Rather, SGA awards the interest the scholarship collects.

The principal fund accrues interest at the federally mandated interest rate of 2.25 percent, but the Board of Trustees only allows SGA to take out five percent of the scholarship account balance to award to students. If $100,000 exists in the principal fund, $5,000 can go towards scholarships.

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