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USF should reconsider new scholarship policy

First Time In College students who receive University scholarships will soon be getting less money than expected, starting next school year.

In an attempt to cut costs, USF plans to reduce university scholarships for students whose total federal, state and institutional scholarships exceed their estimated cost of attendance. The idea is to try to prevent students from receiving more money than they need to attend college.

However, private scholarships, such as those awarded by private companies and organizations, will not affect the amount of financial aid a student is allowed to receive. This means that students with private scholarships can potentially receive more money than their estimated cost of attendance.

Students should not receive less money for relying on state and federal scholarships rather than private ones. Scholarships funded by the state or the government are essentially the same as private awards, as they cost nothing to the university. Therefore, they should have the same effect on university scholarships.

Billie Jo Hamilton, director of the Office of Financial Aid, said private awards would not be considered in calculating the amount of financial aid a student can receive, so as to not discourage students from earning them.

“We don’t think it’s fair if a student has ambition and gets out there and finds (scholarship) money on their own to pull ours back,” Hamilton said. “We want to encourage students to find their own scholarship money, so we don’t want to penalize them for doing that.”

Hamilton also said it would have a “detrimental effect on recruitment,” if the University reduced its payment to private scholarship holders.

However, the same can be said for students who receive money from state and federal sources. Many state scholarships are just as hard to earn as private ones. Students must find the scholarships, meet the requirements, submit applications and even interview for some of them. For many state and federal scholarships, students must also fill out the lengthy Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

By taking university scholarships away from those who have state and federal money, USF is penalizing students who may not find private funds. There is no reason to make private awards seem better for students than state and federal scholarships that do not cost anything to the University. This policy has the potential to be unfair to high-achieving students and should be changed.