Story by Courtney Scoby, Staff writer
The way students apply for scholarships at Murray State is changing. The new scholarship application system went live on Jan. 8.
There are several different reasons why the university changed scholarship application systems, said Christian Cruce, director of scholarships.
“We have outgrown the previous system,” Cruce said. “We are also approaching the end of the contract for the previous system. In addition, the previous scholarship system is being phased out and replaced with a new system by the software company that owns it. Therefore, a change in scholarship application systems was inevitable.”
Among other things, the new application system is supposed to be faster and easier for students to use.
“Previously, students had to apply for individual scholarship,” Cruce said. “In the new system, students will get considered for all possible scholarships in which they meet the criteria if they submit a scholarship application and any requested documentation. “
The new application system will speed along the scholarship process in general as well, not just for students.
“The system provides additional capabilities that will allow the entire process of awarding scholarships to become more efficient, from working with scholarship committees to notifying students who are awarded scholarships,” Cruce said.
Although the system is still new to students, the Scholarship Office has already been receiving feedback on the new system, most of which is positive, Cruce said.
However, many students were not happy with the timing of the implementation of the new system, which went into effect a mere week before this year’s scholarship deadline.
“While we know that the timing of the switch was not ideal, it was unavoidable,” Cruce said. “The staff in the Scholarship Office has been working tirelessly to make the transition as smooth as possible for students.”
Other than the timing of the system switch, student opinions of the new system are mixed.
“Being able to answer all of the various questions asked in the old application was very cumbersome and slow,” said Josh Drouin, junior from Mayfield, Kentucky. “The new system has streamlined all of the questions into one location, meaning that you no longer have to answer the same question many times.”
Filling out the application quickly is not a primary concern for other students, however.
Accuracy was a main concern for MK Bleichner, junior from Fairfield, Ohio, who applied on the old system and logged into the new system to ensure that all of her information transferred correctly.
“Even though it was often a lengthy process and the system ran a bit slow, I definitely prefer the old system,” Bleichner said. “The new one would not allow me to edit some of my information that had transferred, like my number of credits completed and officer positions in organizations.”
While the new system’s ability to choose and apply for scholarships based on a student’s application materials without the student having to do so manually may be a plus for some, Bleichner does not agree.
“I like knowing how many scholarships I am applying for and I make sure I apply for any that require financial aid, even if by federal guidelines I do not ‘need’ it,” she said.
Bleichner worries that the inclusion of a FAFSA and the new system’s choosing which scholarship her information will be entered into will lessen her chances of receiving scholarship money.
“I am an excellent student, I am involved on campus, and I want the determination of whether I get a scholarship or not based on these things, not how much money my parents make,” Bleichner said. “They have helped me out so much and I am trying to keep them from having to pay as much, which is why I apply for scholarships in the first place.”
The Scholarship Office encourages students to contact them with any questions or concerns regarding the new application system at firstname.lastname@example.org.