Scholarship rewards civic engagement


Scholarship rewards civic engagement

What if SUNY Cortland’s students could earn $2,000 for the public-spirited volunteer work that so many of them already are doing, such as promoting diversity, equity and inclusion? 

Well they likely can. The catch is they need to apply to the Financial Aid Office for one of five ImPACt Applied Learning Scholarships by 4 p.m. on Friday.

To apply, use the application form on the Financial Aid Office website.

The Financial Aid Office, in partnership with the university’s Institute for Civic Engagement, is looking to bestow the awards on matriculated sophomores, juniors and seniors who have demonstrated accomplishment, innovation, leadership and/or longevity in these areas:

  • anti-racism work
  • environmental sustainability
  • civic engagement decision-making on behalf of not-for-profit agencies or government
  • K-12 applied learning methodology 

“We want to encourage students who already are engaged in this civic engagement work, and who have the passion to make projects happen,” said John Suarez, director of the university’s Institute for Civic Engagement, coordinator of its Office of Service-Learning and co-managing editor of The Journal of the Scholarship of Engagement.

Students both as volunteers and in class assignments (above left) might be engaging in activities that make them eligible for an ImPACt Applied Learning Scholarship. Check with the Financial Aid Office.

“The ImPACt Applied Learning Scholarship rewards students whose work is not directly addressed by our other civic engagement scholarships,” said Matthew Pitcher, scholarship coordinator with Financial Aid Office. The scholarship’s funding was donated by SUNY Cortland’s Institutional Planning and Assessment Committee (IPAC) and is awarded based on availability.

“The idea here is that students who earn this grant will be involved with helping us indirectly to educate students and others on issues of the day,” Suarez said. “I’ll just take two — anti-racism and environmental sustainability — and certainly these are not mutually exclusive. They overlap. The work of students who earn this scholarship will help us educate students and others on the importance of civic engagement in these issues and on ways of making this work successful. In one fell swoop, these scholarship winners are educating and they also are helping to get things done.”

The scholarship would first cover any outstanding balance on the student’s account such as tuition, fees and board, Pitcher said. Any amount remaining after the bill has been covered would be issued to the student in the form of a refund check.

Students who receive one of New York state’s Excelsior Scholarships would be eligible for this award, Pitcher noted. However, the scholarship would act as an Excelsior reducer and whatever amount they are receiving currently in the Excelsior Scholarship would be decreased by the amount received in this scholarship.

The fact is that many really outstanding students at Cortland are doing good work but they aren’t covered by an Excelsior Scholarship, Suarez said.

“There is that financial pressure this scholarship will help at least to relieve,” he said.

“We have reopened the application portal for this opportunity because we did not originally have enough qualified applicants to award all available funding for the 2020-2021 aid year,” Pitcher said.

Because this award is competitive — sort of like a job interview cover letter — Suarez advised candidates to not make the mistake of using any prior scholarship application statement for this scholarship. Instead, take the time to address the award criteria directly in the key 400-word application essay.

“Career Services offers application-writing guidance year-round,” he advises those who might hesitate to apply based on their writing skills with respect to the essay writing part of the process.

The selection criteria also calls for applicants to be enrolled full-time and in good academic standing at SUNY Cortland with a minimum 2.75 overall grade point average, having completed at least one full-time semester at the institution.

Candidates must have at least one full academic year remaining at the start of the fall semester of this 2020-2021 academic year.

They must have demonstrated financial need by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Preference will be given to nontraditional students.

 The scholarship is a one-time award and is non-renewable.

Scholarship funding is determined by the Cortland College Foundation. Scholarship amounts and availability are subject to change.