Scholarships and financial aid help students avoid debt

The University of Indianapolis offers scholarships and financial aid to help students pay for college, as well as provide resources to find outside scholarships. According to Associate Vice President for Financial Aid Linda Handy, all together students at UIndy receive $99 million in financial aid, including grants, loans and scholarships. She said UIndy contributes about $40 million of that through grants and scholarships.

Although 85 percent of students get some sort of financial aid, according to Handy, most scholarships and grants from the university are given to incoming freshmen and can stay with them through their college career.

“It’s true that most of the aid that we’ll award is based upon high school performance, and their funds are used as a recruiting tool to get the student[s] to be able to attend,” Handy said. “And then obviously, they are renewed as long as they maintain their GPA and course completion. So it’s a retention tool as well to help those students. Once we make a commitment, then we stick with it.”

Upperclassmen are not out of luck when looking for more scholarships from UIndy, as there are scholarships offered mostly based on a student’s major.

“There are some departmental awards that a student could get if they are not an entering freshman,” Handy said. “They’re typically awards that are given based upon academic performance while they’re in school, and many of them go to students later in the cycle, as juniors or seniors, after they’ve established themselves and they’re able to show their performance.”

Handy said that although the Financial Aid Office has information about departmental awards, asking someone in the department for specifics would be more beneficial.

The money for scholarships offered at UIndy usually comes from endowments and tuition revenue. Handy said that $1.2 million comes from endowments and the rest from tuition revenue. She also said that the university would like to be able to award more scholarships and grants to students.

“If we had plenty of money to go around, it’d be great,” Handy said. “We’d like to be able to do some things with providing additional money to students once they’ve had a good track record here.… The fact of the matter is [that] we don’t have a large endowment, so that means having to budget and watch the amount of tuition revenue that you’re getting from your students. And that revenue has to cover all of your operating expenses plus then scholarships and grants that you’re able to give to students. So it’s kind of a balancing act.”

As part of the Vision 2030 campaign, Financial Aid is trying to get more endowments so they are able to offer more money to students. Senior social work major Alexis Fort is receiving scholarships from UIndy.

“I have a social work scholarship, which is the Phylis Lan [Lin] Scholarship, and then I have a voc. [vocational] rehab scholarship,” she said. “And that’s for learning disability, and then the RA scholarship for being a resident assistant.”

Fort said scholarships can be a great way to help pay for college, and the Financial Aid Office has resources to help students find scholarships outside of those offered at UIndy.

“I know that if you are looking for scholarships, you can always go over to the Financial Aid Office,” Fort said. “They have a binder over there full of various scholarships, and they try to update that at least every two weeks…. If you keep your grades up, you can get nominated for scholarships also.”

Handy also mentioned the scholarship binder and said that they also try to contact students they know are looking for more financial aid and are eligible for and fit the criteria of certain scholarships. She also said they recommend scholarship search engines, such as FastWeb, College Board and ScholarNet.

“There are several of those kind[s] of search engines,” Handy said. “They’re very laborious to use but nonetheless the only way we have for a student to look into that.”

Although the only ways students can look for outside scholarships currently are the binder and search engines, which often take a lot of time, the Financial Aid Office is developing a database to help make finding scholarships easier. Handy said the Department of Financial Aid plan to link the database on MyUIndy and have it ready by next fall.

For now, if students want to find more scholarships for which they can apply, they should talk to someone from their department about whether or not the department offers departmental scholarships, check the binder in the Financial Aid Office or try an online search engine.