General Scholarship Improved at California State University – Los Angeles

*Story originally published Wednesday, May 4th, 2015 online by CSU University Times

Running out of funds? Use AcademicWorks to apply for on-campus scholarships

Staring vacantly at his financial aid award letter for next year, Jose Ramos looks distraught. The letter presents his worst nightmare—he will have to pay over $2,000 out of pocket each quarter if he does not find a scholarship soon. This year though, the Financial Aid Office general has yet to release the general scholarship forms to students. “What am I going to do?” worriedly asks Ramos, a 22 year old junior and Biochemistry major.

Ramos looks online for financial relief by searching for on and off campus scholarships, though usually he depends on the general scholarship sponsored by the Financial Aid Office every spring quarter. Like many other students at Cal State L.A., Ramos depends on financial aid from grants and scholarships to fund his education. However, for the past four months the Center for Student Financial Aid and Scholarships has displayed a red-clad ‘coming soon’ posting for the general scholarship application. Eager students wanting to apply wait without any indication why there is a delay by the Financial Aid office.

Director of Student Financial Aid Tamie Nguyen and Associate Director Jonathan Choy, respectively, are aware of student sentiment. They have partnered up to improve the application process efficiency by announcing the upcoming launch of a new program. The program enhances scholarship management experience that reviews, matches, and notifies applicants with the over 400,000 scholarships offered. AcademicWorks is projected to go live sometime in May without a definitive date as of yet.

AcademicWorks will advance student experience through a new simplified process, giving student wider access by having an online application. Students can correct any errors or supplement any missed information 24/7 until the deadline date. When applying, students will not have to submit the usual information because the material would be provided from student record data, with the exception of community service and extracurricular activities. Students requesting letter(s) of recommendation from faculty will only submit them on AcademicWorks, thus ending the endless paper trails.

Over a year of collaborating with the Division of University Advancement and faculty support they have initiated efforts to implement an improved system to get students quicker, up-to-date information about their application’s status. Choy describes the handicaps of the manual system used saying, “We are in the process of trying to improve the process…we are working on trying to get the application as an online application. In the past, you would fill out a number of forms and then we would have to manually send applications to each department causing long periods of uncertainty as to the student’s status.”

Since this is an introduction of AcademicWorks, the time frame  students can expect to be notified about their award winnings will be determined in late fall. Normally, faculty members evaluate applicants and provide the final decision sometime over April and May. This year faculty  will review the material at the beginning of the fall quarter. The general scholarship application on AcademicWorks will be open for one month after its initial takeoff.

Ramos expresses, “Well I’m just glad they’re going to have it still. I thought they would never post the application. I hope this system works because I’m running out of options and I need to pay for my classes.” Director and Associate Director, Nguyen and Choy are planning for the release of this system to improve future management and eliminate constraint in the Financial Aid office.

Students can anticipate to be notified about this new system through their Cal State L.A. e-mail within the coming days along with specific instructions to familiarize students to the latest system. Also, the Center for Student Financial Aid and Scholarships will be updating their website to include any new information relevant to the general scholarship application to avoid further confusion.