Scholarships can be the saving grace for the many students struggling to get through college while living on Ramen noodles and granola bars.
However, with finances and budgets tight at Miami University, scholarships could be scaled back in the coming year.
Carolyn Haynes, director of the university honors and scholars program, said the Harrison Scholarship, which covers tuition, fees and room and board for eight semesters of undergraduate study at Miami has already been forced to become more exclusive.
Haynes said that not as many students were awarded the Harrison Scholarship this year because the university cannot afford to support as many students as in previous years.
In the past five years, Haynes said 40 to 60 Harrison Scholarships were awarded each year. This year, Haynes said, the university only awarded 28 scholarships and it is unknown how many will be offered next year.
“We did have to reduce the number of Harrison Scholarship offered this year due to financial constraints,” Haynes added. “Although the number of Harrison Scholarships is reduced this year because of funding constraints, we are hopeful that once the financial climate improves we will be able to offer more in the future.”
There are, in total, approximately 90 students currently on Harrison scholarships, Haynes said.
However, students in the honors program are by no means alone when it comes to worrying about their scholarships.
Charles Knepfle, director of student financial assistance, said administrators are doing their best to not let the recent financial troubles affect current students or incoming first-years, but the future of Miami’s yearly $40 million in undergraduate scholarships is still up in the air.
“The university budgets (money for) scholarships,” Knepfle said. “Those will not be affected. But if we get a freshman class that’s less than we expected, or the state cuts our funding, then we’re not sure what will happen. This is very early, so many things are up in the air still.”
Knepfle added that the pool of money to be most affected will be the scholarships funded by endowments, or donors. Knepfle said although they are unsure what will happen to that money, the university expects these numbers to be down significantly.
“While we won’t know for sure for a few months yet, it seems that the university’s endowment earnings will be well off this year’s (expectations) and therefore there is likely to be fewer scholarship dollars to award,” Haynes said.
However, Knepfle said scholarships that have been around a long time have been able to put money on reserve for bad years.
“The people who manage each scholarship put money away for years like this,” Knepfle said. “The only scholarships that may be affected are those that are relatively newer where we haven’t had enough years to build up a reserve fund.”
One of these scholarships, Knepfle said, includes Access Initiative, which provides assistance to low-income students. The extra money, Knepfle said, is saved through the years to ensure the program can continue.