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Scholarships abound, students achieve

Alison Block, For The Miami Student

When it comes to scholarships, students often settle for what Miami initially gives them when they enroll. That should not be the case, as Miami has a multitude of scholarship opportunities for current students, usually based on a combination of merit and financial need. In 2013 alone, Miami gave $53 million in scholarships.

Miami's financial aid office reviews student records when choosing to award scholarships for the upcoming semester. The criteria for many of these awards are often related to students' Miami GPAs. For donor-created scholarships, criteria can be based on other, more specific factors, often dealing with aspects such as financial need or the student's major, Director of the Financial Aid Office Brent Shock said.

"Miami looks for some level of academic achievement, but they are also based on a level of financial need," he said.

Students often receive these awards without applying for them, but there are many additional scholarships students can seek out and apply for as well. Shock said a smart place for students to start looking for scholarships is within his or her own department at Miami. Colleges, departments and programs within the university often have annual scholarships for which their students can apply. For more information about these scholarships, students should check with the department chair, his or her academic advisor, the administrative staff that work in the department or even on the department's website, Shock said.

Students can also visit the Office of Financial Assistance in the College Avenue Building (CAB) for help with scholarships.

Miami publishes a list of trusted outside scholarship opportunities on the Financial Aid website, and there are useful search engines that match students' criteria to outside scholarships, such as and Students should be wary though, Shock said, as scholarship searches should always be free and anonymous.

"Never, ever pay for a search service," he said.

The Office of Financial Aid also assists students in compiling applications for scholarships with more extensive requirements.

"We do our best to provide help," Shock said. "Counselors are available every day, Monday through Friday, except Wednesday mornings. Students need to know what they're looking to apply for when they come in."

He also encouraged students to utilize other resources at Miami when preparing applications.

"Use the Howe Writing Center," he said. "It's a great resource to use for essays."

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In addition to scholarships, Shock mentioned several other ways students can alleviate the financial burden of college expenses. He stressed the importance of planning ahead, working and saving and creating and sticking to a budget.

"Every choice has a dollar associated with it," he said.

There are also many options for students studying abroad. Associate Director of Global Initiatives Karla Guinigundo explained how students can make their study abroad experiences affordable.

"One of the keys to making study abroad as affordable as possible is to really plan ahead," she said.

With the help of her office and Miami's study abroad advisors, students have several resources available to help them do this. There are multiple scholarships available for students going abroad, both from endowed scholarships within Miami as well as outside scholarships. Miami offers a variety of scholarships, usually by academic departments or the student's study abroad program itself.

"We have some scholarships available that are specific to some departments or programs," Guinigundo said. "The Luxembourg program has scholarships, for instance; the Farmer School [of Business] has pools of scholarships that are just for Farmer students. We have some scholarships that are specific to exchange programs, which are a specific type of study abroad program, and then we do have some that are general and can be used on different types, like the Havighurst minority scholarship, the Moloney, Ostberg, and Saylor Scholarships, and the Western College Alumni Association also has some support available from time to time."

The Global Initiatives office provides a list of common non-Miami scholarships students apply for and receive, as well as recommended scholarship search sites students can utilize, found on the "financing" tab of the Study Abroad website.

Guinigundo encouraged any students preparing to go abroad to come to their office, where advisers can work with them directly to maximize the students' chances of receiving a scholarship.

They have done this already: nine Miami students have been chosen for the Gilman International Scholarship this coming summer, which Guinigundo said is a major achievement.

"It's absolutely phenomenal," Guinigundo said. "Miami students actually do win these."