Scholarship makeover

Union introduces new four-year renewable scholarships

Photo Caption: On the bright side, current students can still get scholarship t-shirts!

Emy Wood

Union College just announced a new scholarship that will be implemented for new freshman students next year—and it will be 100 percent renewable all four years. That’s quite the shift from our current scholarship plan, which dropped to 50 percent renewability after freshman year.

I sat down with Nadine Nelson, Union’s vice president for Enrollment and Student Financial Services to discuss the new scholarships and what it means to current and future students.

This new scholarship sounds like it could really help Union appeal to new students. How does it work?

Nelson: Starting next school year, Union College will offer new 100 percent renewable scholarships to incoming freshman for four years. Each scholarship level is based on a student’s high school GPA and ACT/SAT test scores. So whatever scholarship new students qualify for, they can now get that same amount for three more years.

We have also introduced two new scholarships for high academic achieving students with a high school GPA of 3.75 and above and ACT scores of 29 or above. This chart lays out the details.

Union is also offering a new scholarship for freshmen who plan to enroll in nursing. Students who indicate their interest in nursing, follow the pre-nursing curriculum and have a high school GPA of 3.0 and a 20 ACT will be able to receive an additional $2500 scholarship renewable for three more years.

Why is Union changing the scholarship program?

Nelson: We all want Union to continue to grow and offer many more students the great opportunities each of you have. Union College’s long term strategic plan calls for us to increase enrollment over the next 10 years—30 students by 2019 and 110 students by 2025. In order to do that, Union needs to find new ways to attract students and be competitive with other Adventist and regional colleges.

We hired a consulting company who specialized in reviewing institutional financial aid, and they told us that we were one of the only schools not renewing scholarships at 100 percent and that we could increase our new student enrollment by changing our scholarship program.

As we reviewed this information we discovered that Union is the last Seventh-day Adventist college in North America to begin offering four-year, 100 percent renewable scholarships. By changing our scholarship program, we now plan to offer the best value collegiate education in Adventist education.

Why is Union only offering the new scholarships to freshman? Why can’t I get it, too?

Nelson: Union would love nothing more than to give every student these scholarships immediately. But it is going to cost an additional $1 million when the new scholarships are fully implemented. To be able to fund the new scholarships we enroll more students. That’s why we have to phase the scholarship program in slowly.

Next year the new plan will have minimal impact on the college budget because we are giving the freshman the same amount as before. The following year we will start to see increased costs because those freshman students will become sophomores. Instead of cutting the scholarship in half as we do right now, their scholarship amounts will remain the same.

Then how will Union pay for this?

Nelson: Implementing the new scholarships one class at a time will help ease the strain on the budget. The consultants project that this aggressive scholarship plan will increase our enrollment enough over the next four years to cover the extra cost. We truly hope and pray that is what happens so that it doesn’t create an extra budget constraint to our campus.

Well, what’s in it for us?

Nelson: First off, a strong and growing Union College benefits everyone. As we grow, we are able to add or strengthen services, programs, facilities and staffing to better serve all of our students. I know our students are really interested in a newer recreational facilities and we really hope that with an increase in enrollment can help infuse our institutional budget with the resources we need to continue to make improvements to our campus.

Secondly, every current student will still continue to receive all the scholarships they were guaranteed when they enrolled. Current students get their scholarship renewed for nine semesters (4.5 years) instead of the eight semesters (4 years) that new students will get. New students are also no longer eligible for church matching funds.

Towards the end of our conversation, Nelson expressed her gratitude towards the campus, saying, “I am blessed to be a part of the Union College family along with each of you. Thank you for helping make Union College a great place to study, work and thrive. Thank you for working together to encourage other students to join this amazing learning community.”

Emy is a sophomore studying communication.