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Miami students benefit from variety of scholarships

By Sarah Knepp, for The Miami Student

In the 2014-2015 academic year, Miami students received over $178 million in tuition assistance, stemming from merit-based and need-based scholarships, as well as from departments and organizations.

According to the Office of Institutional Research, these merit-based scholarships and grants accounted for over $39 million of the total financial aid awarded to students last academic year. Around $38 million in scholarships and grants was awarded on the basis of need. Additionally, just over $40 million was awarded to students in other categories, such as athletic program scholarships.

Brent Shock, director of Student Financial Assistance, said the majority of Miami students receive aid in order to help pay for the costs of college.

75 percent of Miami students are receiving some sort of financial assistance. More specifically, about 58 percent of Oxford students receive financial assistance.

Scholarships awarded directly from the university are based on an applicant's qualifications.

Miami offers scholarships to students entering their first year that are based on ACT/SAT test scores, high school GPA and difficulty of high school curriculum. Students can almost always renew these scholarships all four years of college.

Miami depends on funding from the generosity of alumni and the implementation of endowment programs, like the newly enacted Match the Promise campaign, which began last year.

The Match the Promise campaign has raised a lot of money in just over a year, according to Vice President of Advancement Thomas Herbert.

"So far the Match the Promise campaign has raised approximately $25 million over the past 15 months," he said. "This is in addition to the $50 million that was raised in scholarship gifts over the four years previous to the campaign's beginning."

So, scholarships have seen a bit of an increase because of the Match the Promise campaign. However, the endowment program seeks to fund scholarship awards in the long term, so not all of the money is being used for scholarships right now.

"Much of the money raised has gone into scholarship endowments where only the income is spent on scholarships, and other gifts are pledges that are still being fulfilled," Herbert said.

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Donations from donors and alumni help provide money for students to receive scholarships directly from the university.

Junior Mackenzie Banks, an in-state student, is a recipient of a generous scholarship funded by these donations.

"I am on a scholarship that pays full tuition and partial living expenses," Banks said.

Banks's financial rewards are actually the result of two separate scholarships: one that is merit-based, and another that comes from Bridges, a program that brings diverse students to Miami in order to increase diversity on campus.

The Bridges program offers students who participate $2,500 towards their full tuition annually. Banks said that, when she lived on campus, her Bridges reward helped pay for the remaining costs of her room and board.

"Now that I live off campus, the money that I don't use for tuition and fees goes directly into my bank account," she said.

Scholarships originating beyond the base of merit, like those from the Bridges program, are not too hard to find. Many departments offer scholarships to students that can be applied to various opportunities during a student's time here on campus.

According to Shock, Miami's academic departments granted over $3 million to students in scholarship awards.

So, while college may still be a time of penny pinching and eating too much Ramen, there are opportunities to make the time here a little more affordable.