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Networks: Seven Service Areas: Scholarships

Why a network (formerly chapter) scholarship program?
Part of the benefit of a network-sponsored scholarship is its potential to sway an undecided student toward Calvin. The alumni scholarship may just be the boost that student needs to choose Calvin! To be "actively involved" in this field, alumni networks must have some formal system set up for awarding scholarships to local Calvin-bound students.

How does a network raise scholarship funds?
Networks go about raising scholarship money in various ways. Some take a free-will offering at an alumni event; others send out a low-key fund raising letter; and still others auction off Calvin-related gifts. Whatever works best for your area is recommended; however, notifying the college in advance of your method of fund raising and your time line is essential so that alumni and college fund raising efforts don't trip over one another. If your network wants to simply mail a letter to alumni asking for a gift, this ought to be piggy-backed on to an invitation to a network event. Other networks have tacked on scholarship donations to the cost of an event, held "Calvin stuff" auctions, made profit on activities or identified a handful of alumni in the area to ask for contributions (check first with the Alumni Office before trying this latter method).

As an incentive, the Alumni Association Board has initiated a program of matching local network scholarships dollar-for-dollar, up to $2,500 a network! You need to act promptly, however, because a limited amount of funds are available for this matching gift program and it is dispersed on a first-come, first-served basis. Canadian networks should note that the Alumni Board has agreed to match all Canadian network scholarship dollars on par with U.S. dollars — a nice boost for Canadian students!

When should we award the scholarships?
Calvin's financial aid office asserts that scholarships ought to be awarded as early as possible in the year (e.g. February or March) as possible. See timeline listed below for an idea of what happens when.

A few things to remember about scholarships:

  • The amount of the network scholarship is less important than the fact that local alumni care enough to sponsor such a program. There is great local public relations value in establishing a scholarship!
  • It is the network leadership that decides scholarship criteria. Should there be face-to-face interviews or simply written evaluations? Should financial need be the only—or main—selection criteria/-on? Are there unique local situations to be considered? The network leadership draws up the guidelines.
  • Local high school counselors, parents and pastors should be notified of network scholarships and given a number of applications.

Suggested Scholarship Selection Criteria (choose 1-3)

  • Academic record
  • College potential
  • Christian character
  • Motivation
  • Involvement and/or leadership in church, community, school, activities outside the classroom
  • Need

Scholarship Timeline

June-September: decide whether or not the network can and will offer a scholarship for the next year; plan out the timeline with network leadership; let the alumni office of your plans; make sure you update the scholarship form on this network scholarship site.

October-December: distribute applications to local high schools through the guidance counselors; publicize the scholarship program as widely as possible; plan how your network is going to raise scholarship funds after the first of the year; have a local alumni event to raise funds for this year's awards.

January-Feburary: continue promoting the availability of the scholarship locally; work with the alumni office to send out a "scholarship ask" of your network membership, or implement the other methods you have for raising scholarship funds. Remember that the Association matches up to $2,500 per network per year! End the application process by February 2, and then meet as a selection committee to make scholarship awards.

March: make decisions no later than the first week of March and communicate those decisions to the alumni office; distribute scholarship certificates to recipients; have local alumni event to raise funds for the next year's awards.

April-June: make effort to have network representative at high school awards assemblies near the end of school; follow up with alumni office to see which recipients attended and if alternate recipients are needed; have a local alumni event to raise funds for next year's awards.

* Remember that the earlier you complete the scholarship process, the more likely the scholarship will positively affect a student's decision to attend Calvin.
* The network's funds are applied to a student's first semester account; the matching Association funds are applied to a student's second semester account.

To get further information on network scholarships, you are encouraged to contact Executive Director Mike Van Denend at 616-526-6142 or network@calvin.edu.