FAMU Foundation scholarship process to conclude Friday

The Florida A&M University Foundation Inc. scholarship process is expected conclude Friday, according to the foundation’s computer research specialist.

Recipients of the scholarship are still being notified after applying last year. However, Quanitra Thurston said the awarded students are going through a long process.

“The scholarship committees started reviewing applications in November 2013,” Thurston said. “While all denial letters have been sent, the students that have been recommended to receive scholarships are still in the verification process by the office of financial aid.”

The FAMU Foundation is a charitable organization that accepts and administers private contributions on behalf of the university.

With donations from industry professionals, alumni, supporters and other benefactors, the foundation is able to distribute scholarships to FAMU students every year.

The foundation’s webpage states that there were more than 200 scholarships for this fiscal year, and they were anticipated to be awarded on Sept. 16.

Prior to the using the online system, students were mandated to apply manually to each scholarship.

“Scholarships were listed on the FAMU Foundation’s website, and all applicants submitted paper applications to the office of university advancement,” Thurston said.

Teri Watson, a senior architecture student from Houston, used both the manual and online systems.

“I received scholarships from the foundation for the past two years, and I prefer the online system,” Watson said. “The online system took longer than the manual. Communication was a big problem for me, and I wish we were kept better informed.”  

The online system harbored mixed reviews from scholarship recipients, such as Ameer Brown, a fourth-year public relations student from Queens, N.Y.

“I applied in May of 2013 so I can pay for summer rent and did not get it until August,” Brown said. “I am not ungrateful because the money came. But when you’re dealing with principles, promises, deadlines and needs, you expect to receive what was awarded to you when you were supposed to have it.”

Thurston said there was a need for staff training, adjustments and adaptation with the new system. The success of the system also required cooperation with the university’s schools and colleges.

“We undertook an ambitious timeline,” Thurston said. “There were unforeseen challenges that delayed the process. Each challenge has been acknowledged and documented so that necessary adjustments are being made to ensure that they have been addressed and resolved.”

Despite the delay in awards, Dariaun Atkinson, a fourth-year health science/pre-occupational therapy student from New Orleans, had no problems with the system.

“My experience using the scholarship system was very easy,” Atkinson said. “The way the website was set up made it easier and helpful to apply to as many scholarships as possible. I received my scholarship on Dec. 16.”

A competitive scholarship process was exacerbated by the new regulations affecting the Parent PLUS loan program, according to Thurston.

“Over 2,300 students initiated application profiles and over 1,400 actually completed applications for at least one of approximately 230 scholarship opportunities,” Thurston said.