Free money

Phi Theta Kappa and Schoolcraft Administrators introduce ScholarshipUniverse


Matthew Kern, Managing Editor

It’s no secret that college is expensive. Short of buying a top-of-the-line sports car, or a regular house, investing in one’s higher education is bound to be the most expensive endeavor of a person’s life. That said, there are many opportunities to ease this burden. Over the past academic year, Schoolcraft’s Omicron Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) has been involved in a project to make finding and applying to scholarships more accessible to the average student.

Every year, Phi Theta Kappa leaders choose an issue to focus on and solve, with the help of college administration. These issues are centered-on concerns which affect the community, and this year’s focus was the academic community at Schoolcraft. As a result, the 2022 Leaders Emerging Through Financial Literacy Project to address growing stresses over tuition costs was formed. 

“Research gathered through a Trellis report provided by Data Bytes revealed that one of students’ greatest stressors was lack of financial stability, resources and limited access to basic needs,” said Catreese Bell-Qualls, president of the Omicron Iota chapter, “With this research in mind, we met with Dr. Cerny, and administrators from Schoolcraft to broaden our understanding, with regard to what caused these stressors and how they impacted enrollment, retention and completion.”

Working with the staff in Admissions, PTK organizers worked to develop a system to streamline the scholarship process at the school. Using research to identify which populations were most vulnerable to the effects of tuition cost, they developed the ScholarshipUniverse, a tool to help them access financial aid.

“Our workshop was born out of our team’s desire to understand how we could facilitate creating more wellness among our student population at Schoolcraft College, ‘’ said Bell-Qualls. “COVID 19 presented a plethora of challenges for students. which caused students to suffer from higher rates of depression and anxiety.”

Because of this, students can now access the ScholarshipUniverse portal through the Schoolcraft website with single sign-on. The portal serves as a collaboration between the Schoolcraft College Foundation, Financial Aid, Enrollment Services, and Information Technology to provide students with a centralized access-point for applying to scholarships. Here, scholarship hunters can fill out a single generic application to point them in the right direction of where to apply. The site also features a customizable dashboard reminiscent of Ocelot Access, and will send users personalized notifications about scholarships, according to their stated needs. 

“As a result of our research, and commitment to student wellness and success, our recommendations in collaboration with administrators across campus have uniquely contributed to Schoolcraft’s development of a New and easier Scholarship application process. We’re honored to serve as Leaders creating brighter futures for Ocelots, and we look forward to improving students’ mental, emotional, academic and financial wellness through Financial Literacy.” Said Bell-Qualls. 

For those looking to check out the site, or for those who still need some motivation, there is already an open scholarship available. 

The “Spring Forward with Schoolcraft Scholarship” is open for anyone attending the Spring 2022 semester. By way of generous donors, the Foundation is providing $100,000 in scholarship money to be awarded to students who apply- until the funds are exhausted. 

Also open now are Fall Scholarships for incoming highschool students, and Foundation Scholarships for Winter 2022-23 will open on Thursday, March 17.

“As with all software transitions, we know there will be growing pains, but we ask for your patience as we do our best to communicate with and serve our students and the Schoolcraft community,” said Carole Booms, director of the Annual Giving and Scholarship Administration, in an email addressed to Schoolcraft faculty and staff. “The Foundation and Financial Aid offices are available to assist students with the changes.”

Don’t let the opportunity to ease the financial burden of college go to waste. ScholarshipUniverse allows for students to continue taking classes they need and at an affordable price.