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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Eagle

SG, Student Activities revive community service scholarship

A Student Government scholarship originally created almost a decade ago will again be available for students of financial need.

The scholarship is available to students of financial need who have demonstrated civic engagement to the local D.C. area during their time at AU and have made significant contributions to the student body, SG President Tim McBride said. SG members are not eligible for the scholarship.

Like other University financial aid requirements, the student must be in good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and 30 credits per year.

The community service they perform must also be done while currently enrolled at AU.

Priority will be given to Pell-eligible students or students with a household income of $60,000 or less, according to the bill passed by the Undergraduate Senate that reinstated the scholarship.

Between one and four students will receive a scholarship of $1,000 for the spring semester from SG under the advisement of Student Activities.

Next year, the scholarship will be a total of $2,000 for the entire academic year.

Student Activities will release information this week about the deadline for the scholarship and will decide more details about the composition of the scholarship committee in the coming months, McBride said.

The committee will be a mix of SG members and administration officials. McBride will pick the SG members of the committee and a representative from the Office of Campus Life will pick the administration officials.

Though the scholarship has been dormant for 10 years due to the economic recession, it recouped about four years ago and was then brought to the SG’s attention. However, previous SG leaders were preoccupied with other SG advocacy initiatives and the scholarship was not ushered back in until McBride’s tenure began.

McBride decided to reinstitute the scholarship as part of the SG’s initiative to address the growing number of students in financial need.

“I think if we have an opportunity to start this scholarship fund we shouldn’t sit on it, we should take it up and move forward on it,” McBride said.

Creation of the scholarship

The scholarship was originally created in October 1991 under the old student government administration, known as the Student Confederation. SG replaced the SC in February 2005.

At the time, the scholarship was available to all AU students, including those in the General Assembly, the predecessor to the Undergraduate Senate. The only GA members not eligible were those on the scholarship committee, The Eagle previously reported.

The scholarship began with a donation of $40,000 from SC’s fundraising efforts with members of the AU community and alumni. The money was put into the University’s endowment, and students were awarded the five percent interest gained every year from the endowment.

The amount of students receiving the scholarship depended on the performance of the endowment, according to Student Activities Coordinator of Governance and Leadership Andrew Toczydlowski in an email. Because the scholarship came from the interest gained on the endowment, the amount of students who receive the scholarship depends on the endowment’s performance.

During the recession of 2001, the pool of funds for the scholarship was depleted because less interest was gained, Toczydlowski said.

Reinstated scholarship funds growing

Today the scholarship has grown to $60,000, according to Toczydlowski.

In the first year of the scholarship, Student Activities said it hopes to award it one or two students. Then, the office will award the scholarship to three to four students in the following years.

Student Activities will then scale back the scholarship to one or two students again, so as not to drain the scholarship funds quickly again.

The office will also grow the base endowment amount to prevent another depletion of funds.

“As the scholarship can be renewed each year, there’s potential to be awarding $12,000 each academic year starting next year,” Toczydlowski said.

SG senators dispute restrictions

During the Undergraduate Senate meeting Sunday, senators voiced concerns over McBride’s authority to sign an agreement reinstating the scholarship without consulting the Senate.

Some senators also questioned the stipulation that recipients must have financial need while acknowledging that they had no ability to alter the stipulation because it violated the idea of merit based on community service.

Brett Atanasio, then speaker pro-tempore last week, expressed his concerns about the limitations on the availability of the scholarship.

“I thought if we were going to have a scholarship based on civic engagement that it should be a scholarship that’s open to all students,” Atanasio said. “Simply because I think if the goal is to engage people in the local community then we shouldn’t make that kind of limitation on that. Community service is community service; it doesn’t really matter what your annual household income is.”

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