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Scholarship options at UWRF second highest in UW System

October 24, 2014

UW-River Falls offers more than 550 scholarships annually to students.

In the 2012-2013 academic school year, there was roughly $680,000 available in scholarship money, and in 2013-2014 there was $800,000 available. The total amount available to students this year will be over $900,000.

“The obvious benefit of having scholarships is making college more affordable and assisting with tuition for students,” said UWRF Foundation President Chris Mueller.

Scholarships are funded by the UWRF Foundation through contributions from alumni, faculty, staff, friends, parents, campus organizations and corporations.

“We are raising awareness about the need for scholarships,” Mueller said. “We are the second largest comprehensive university in the UW System in awarding scholarship money to students.”

UWRF may be the second largest comprehensive university to give away scholarships, but far from the second largest in student body or alumni base.

“That speaks to the impact that the university had on alumni and their willingness to give back,” Mueller said.

All scholarship money is managed by the UWRF Foundation.

According to the Foundation’s website, the Foundation assures that donors’ gifts are recognized and used to create an impact in the university’s future.

“In Wisconsin, only scholarships funded through donors are given,” Mueller said. “In some states tuition can be used to support scholarships, but not in Wisconsin.”

UWRF scholarship application is an annual process that opened to students on Oct. 1.

The scholarship application consists of two essay questions and an opportunity for students to list recognitions and various activities they are or have been involved in.

Students can list activities dating back to high school but Scholarship Lead Erin Wayne encourages students to update their info every year.

“If you’re a junior and you still have activities from high school, the scholarship committee may wonder what you’ve been doing for the past two years,” Wayne said.

Once the general application is submitted, students will also be directed to recommended opportunities. Recommended opportunities are additional scholarships based on major and extracurricular activities.

“You really want to look at the recommended opportunities because you may be missing additional scholarships that you qualify for,” Wayne said.

In addition to the general scholarship process, incoming freshman are also eligible for the Falcon Scholars Program.

The Falcon Scholars Program was developed to raise the academic standards among undergraduates, and to support engagement and excellence among faculty and staff in partnership with UWRF Student Senate.

The Falcon Scholars Program came from the Falcon Promise Initiative. “The goal of the Falcon Scholars Program is to first attract really good students to River Falls so they have a chance to experience a campus that is dedicated to them, where they can work closely with faculty and have a lot of likeminded students on campus,” said Director of the Falcon Scholars and Honors Program Kathleen Hunzer.

“The second goal [is] to form that cohort early on, if a student feels a sense of belonging and has a group, they’re more likely to stay and complete the four years,” Hunzer said.

The qualifications to be selected as a Falcon Scholar includes a composite ACT of 25 or above along with being in the top quarter of one’s class or having a GPA of at least 3.75.

Falcon Scholars who continue to maintain a 2.75 GPA will be offered a renewable, fouryear scholarship of $1,000 per year, $4,000 total. Scholars also receive $2,000 their junior or senior year to support international study abroad and/or participation in undergraduate study.

Two Falcon Scholars who can attest to the benefits of the program are Matthew Pechacek, a junior studying exercise and sports science, and Rachel Molitor, a senior studying English.

“Falcon Scholars helps gear you toward the career you want to be,” Pechacek said. “By not having to worry about the financial part you can focus on your academics.” Molitor also agreed to the benefits of the program, “It’s one of the few initial scholarships that give to students who did well in high school.”

No matter where students receive scholarship money from, Mueller made one thing clear, “There are so many things that exist at the university that wouldn’t happen unless alumni and donors were willing to support the university.”