By Troyce Grant
It is common for students at the University of Georgia to receive scholarships based on their academic accomplishments. But awarding those scholarships depends on intricate business office processes that most students never consider.
At the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism, the financial aid office and the business office work together to manage the process of awarding scholarships, said Anne-Marie Cunningham, the college’s administrative financial director.
It’s Cunningham’s job to keep the college running smoothly financially, which includes allocating and processing the funds for student scholarships. She called it a tedious process, but one that is imperative to ensure a student receives the money from the school properly and promptly.
Because fund agreements dictate the type of recipient who can receive money along with specific criteria for awards, “you have to make sure that we’re doing it appropriately according to the agreement,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham outlined a specific process that takes place to ensure funds are awarded properly. When the business office receives a request to fund a scholarship, the first thing Cunningham said she must check is the student’s enrollment status.
After that, she must consult the funding agreement to determine if the funds being used are appropriate and whether or not the scholarship has been funded properly.
On a perfect day, Cunningham said the whole process can be done in 15 minutes.
Those processes are in place to benefit students like Taylor Potter, now UGA graduate student who said she took advantage of a college scholarship to help fund a study trip to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
“I had been really diligent from high school to the present in trying to make the best of every scholarship and grant opportunity that I can find for everything under the sun and seeing what I can get in,” Potter said.
Potter had already received a Zell Miller scholarship which covered her tuition. This meant that she only had to pay the global study fees which were about $6,000.
Immediately she went to the website and started submitting applications for scholarships.
“The Office of Global Education has a slew of scholarships that you can apply for. I submitted an application and I was lucky to receive $1,000,” Potter said.
Including her undergraduate years, Potter said she has been able to find scholarships big and small. Now as a grad student, Potter estimated her scholarships have totaled $80,000.
A 2020 article from Forbes magazine helps to put Potter’s awards in perspective.
According to the article “only about 1 in 8 college students wins a scholarship,” and award amounts are typically low. The article reported that only about 0.1% of recipients win $25,000 or more in scholarships each year. The article said that of the students who receive scholarships, the vast majority – 97% – is for $2,500 or less.
“It’s just a lot of work to find the scholarships and to apply for them and all that jazz. But you know, $80,000, I would have been in debt otherwise,” Potter said.
Troyce Grant is a journalism student at the University of Georgia.