College tightens belt on scholarships

By Katie Blaser

Throughout the fall semester, it had been rumored the book scholarship and other institutional scholarships at Laramie County Community College would be taken away from students.

Jenny Hargett, director of enrollment services, said the book scholarship will be available to students through the spring semester but will function differently fall 2012.

According to Dr. Grant Wilson, interim vice president of student services at LCCC, the book scholarship and other institutional scholarships are not being removed but being re-examined and redistributed in the fairest way possible.

The reason for this is Vice President of Administration and Finance Carol Hogland requested the college track exactly where money is going, Wilson said. He said other colleges nationally are doing the same.

College to reduce scholarship money to meet suggested NACUBO levels

According to Wilson, LCCC is currently distributing 35 percent of its institutional dollars to students. The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) suggested the percentage should be more in the range of 20 to 25 percent, Wilson said.

Wilson said considering the recession, it is fair to request better tracking of the college's money. It is also a way to inform taxpayers of where their money is going, he said.

Hargett stressed the college's interests in re-examining these scholarships were for the benefit of current LCCC students as well as future ones.

"The changes are recruitment-oriented. It is important that we honor our commitment to students," Hargett said.

Hargett and Wilson said they will honor the Golden Eagle scholarships as well as the Academic Merit and President's and Dean's scholarships given to new students. They said a President's Cabinet directive is to focus on in-district, high-school students.

These changes will not have any effect on privately funded scholarships like those through the LCCC Foundation scholarships or state of Wyoming Hathaway scholarships. The changes are being made to those scholarships funded only by institutional dollars.

VP: 'Institutional financial aid cannot pay for student fees'

Wilson said institutional dollars cannot, however, be used to cover student fees. This has sparked questioning about how and where nontraditional students and low-income students should look to obtain scholarships to cover these fees.

For full-time students the fees are $420 and $10 a credit hour after 12 credits. For part-time students, each credit has a fee of $35. If students do not receive any privately funded scholarships but do get institutional scholarships that helps but does not cover student fees, so it is up to the student to figure out how he will fund the remaining money.

Hargett suggested situations like these involving nontraditional and low-income students should be brought to their attention on an individual basis.

To disperse the scholarships most beneficially for students, Wilson said the college wants to look at students with private funding and fill in the holes with institutional gift money.

Some faculty and students have been asking, "Why are we rushing to do this all at once rather than phasing it over a few years?" But Wilson said the more quickly it is, the better it will be. Further cuts will be a lot easier once the college takes the hit in the 2012-2013 school year if there is one, he said.

None of these changes has yet been made nor will they affect students until the fall 2012 semester, but there will be a significant drop in dispersing institutional dollars.

College to provide $1.7 million less in aid yearly by 2013

According to Wilson, $2.3 million in institutional money is being given to students this academic year.

In the 2012–2013 academic year, that will decrease to $2 million, and by 2013–2014 only $1.7 million in scholarships will be given to students.

To gain input from students on where this money would best benefit them, Hargett said they will bring a member of Associated Student Government on board to assist their team in deciding where this money should go. Wilson also said he would be happy to attend any meetings of ASG that might pertain to this situation to hear student feedback.

Hargett and Wilson also encouraged any other faculty members to provide suggestions.

As of now, Wilson said, there will be short-term solutions to figure out, and once he figures out exactly what the objectives are regarding what LCCC needs to do with this institutional money, the short-term solutions will then be written into policy.

Wilson said the college wants to show taxpayers their money is going toward a good investment.

"Public investment and higher education is something that always pays off," Wilson said.

The process of re-examining these scholarships has only just begun. Eligibility, distribution and deciding how they can honor their students most beneficially are all adjustments that will come. Wilson said the college will have definite figures by June 2012.

Hargett said they will try to reach out to students and work to notify students of changes through ASG.