It’s All About the Scholarships

Students Receiving Scholarship

As higher education has increased and more families rely on scholarships and loans, financial aid packages have become more of a centerpiece of the college decision than ever before.

“Scholarship dollars are increasingly important to attract and retain students,” said Southeast Director of Student Financial Services Dr. Matthew Kearney. “Many students believe a college education isn’t possible when looking at the cost. Working with prospective students to provide an attractive financial aid package can make a college degree possible and be the determining factor in college choice. Because all universities are facing increased competition for students, scholarship programs among institutions are also increasingly becoming competitive.”

While that’s great news for students, the pressure is even greater on universities to fund scholarship programs to help recruit students.
“Not only is the need for scholarships growing, the ability of the University to fund institutional scholarships is decreasing as a result of recent budget reductions,” said Interim Vice President of University Advancement and Executive Director of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation Dr. Trudy Lee. “Privately funded scholarships become even more important in making a college education affordable and attainable.” Southeast Student Financial Services and the Foundation have worked together the last year to address needs while creating a competitive program that’s convenient for students.

“We created the Copper Dome Scholarship program this year which is a truly innovative offering,” said Kearney. “Not only are 70 percent of our students eligible for the program, the values are progressive meaning they grow with the student. We know the cost of attending college can increase from year to year; their financial assistance should too.” “We also changed the award process for our privately funded (endowed and restricted) scholarships significantly,” said Lee. “We no longer require a separate scholarship application process for these. When students apply to Southeast, they need only fill out one application. Privately funded scholarships are awarded with the criteria established by the donor and, if additional materials, such as an essay, are required, students who meet the criteria are notified to submit that additional information.” “This means we can award privately funded scholarships earlier, some as early as December, so the awards can be included in the student’s financial aid package,” said Kearney.

“As a result, students and family have this critical information to consider when making a decision to attend Southeast,” said Lee. “Also, the scholarship committees that consider many scholarships for returning students can begin their award process earlier and, therefore, impact students’ decisions to return for another year.”

“The changes are designed to help families in this expensive decision,” said Kearney. “Southeast is a smart investment. We are living proof that high quality doesn’t have to mean high cost. And, these improvements are just one way we can make the process better for our students.”

“We’re very fortunate to have an endowed scholarship program,” said Lee. “Our endowed scholarship program began in the late 1970s and has grown to over 750 endowed scholarships providing more than $2 million in much-needed financial assistance to Southeast students. From inception, this program has allowed Southeast alumni and friends to establish scholarships based on criteria such as field of study, academic achievement, place of residence or financial need. As funding financial aid packages becomes even more competitive for universities, the generosity of our donors toward scholarships becomes even more imperative to our students’ success.”

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