UNI Bridge Scholarship changes drastically

By Khrystyna Snyder
Pulse Staff Reporter

University of Northern Iowa campus

The University of Northern Iowa has modified its Bridge Scholarship, decreasing the amount of the scholarship significantly.

The Bridge Scholarship has helped 220 non-resident students receive their bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa since 1998. Currently, 51 students participate in the program.

According to Charles Garcia, certified advisor at Palo Alto College and the liaison for the program, the Bridge Scholarship has drastically changed.

“When the program first started, it covered tuition, room and board as well as flying applicants and one parent to the UNI campus for a visit,” said Garcia.

The University of Northern Iowa is located in the quaint town of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Transfer students from Alamo Colleges are looking at $16,836 for out-of-state tuition alone. Add on other mandatory fees along with room and board, and the yearly total comes out to approximately $26,325.

According to the UNI Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, “UNI will continue to offer awards to entering freshmen from public high schools in Gary, Indiana, Christian Academy of San Antonio, Texas (CASA), and entering transfer students from Alamo College District from San Antonio, Texas.”

Applicants must have a 3.25 GPA, their associate’s degree and involvement in activities outside of the classroom that showcase leadership skills.

The UNI Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships awards the Bridge Scholarship. The number of awards given out depends upon the size and qualifications of the applicant pool. Each student who receives the scholarship is awarded $4,000 per year. Other scholarships can be combined with the Bridge Scholarship, making it a stackable scholarship for both freshmen and transfer students. Students are also eligible for other scholarships given out by UNI colleges, departments and the UNI Foundation.

Steven Sanchez, marketing communications specialist at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation (SAAF), attended Palo Alto College with no thoughts of attending a four-year university after receiving his associate’s degree.

“One of my main concerns about continuing my education was paying for it, so the scholarship was obviously a big help with that,” said Sanchez. “But not just in the literal sense of helping me pay for college, but just in terms of making me realize that doing things like going to a four-year college–things that seem out-of-reach sometimes–are actually possible.”

“UNI is a big reason why I’ve come so far in my career,” Sanchez said. “I probably wouldn’t have gone on to get my bachelor’s if it wasn’t for the Bridge Scholarship Program, and my classes and on-campus involvement really helped me narrow down what I wanted to do professionally.”

Phillip Bowie, a 2015 UNI graduate who now works as a retail clerk at Kohls, is shocked by the changes in the coverage of the scholarship.

“It helped my education by giving me the opportunity to learn new things from professors that really challenged me, and be a university student as well as making connections,” said Bowie, who plans on moving out of the country in July 2016 to teach English in South Korea and pursue dance opportunities.

Timothy Bakula, the associate director of Financial Aid said, “With the new changes there exists the potential for even more students to choose UNI.”

He is referring not only to Alamo College students, but also to all eligible students who apply for the scholarship.

Garcia believes that the Bridge Scholarship will be harder to sell with the recent changes, but he urges students to continue to look into the option.

“Education is key,” he said.

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