Scholarship funds rise at Universities at Shady Grove -- Gazette.Net


Stories similar to Kyle Hoes’ can be found around the country.

The 21-year-old student works a part-time job and took out student loans to help put himself through college.

In Hoes’ case, the goal is a degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore program at The Universities at Shady Grove center in Rockville, which offers graduate and degree programs from nine Maryland universities.

Recently, however, Hoes got a financial boost from a Hilton Worldwide Scholarship that put $1,000 toward his tuition costs each semester of the 2013-2014 academic year.

Hoes is among the several hundred students who benefited this fall from the Shady Grove center’s largest-ever pool of scholarship funds following a significant increase from last year’s pool.

This fall, the center has provided about $640,000 in scholarships compared to about $445,000 last fall — a jump of about 44 percent, according to Robyn Dinicola-Wagle, the center’s chief student affairs officer.

Dinicola-Wagle said the center, which will also award scholarships for just the spring semester, is expected to award at least $1 million dollars in scholarships by the end of the academic year.

Stewart Edelstein, executive director of The Universities at Shady Grove, attributed the rise in scholarship funds to the center’s “aggressive” scholarship campaign and a growing awareness and interest in the institution as more of its students work in the community.

“We’re training the next generation of the workforce in Montgomery County,” he said.

The institution’s donors includes graduates, community members, corporations and foundations.

This fall’s increase follows a trend in recent years of rising scholarship funds awarded to students.

The center awarded about $252,000 in fall 2010 — up from about $128,000 in 2009 — and about $440,000 in fall 2011.

The scholarships this fall run the gamut, Dinicola-Wagle said, from smaller ones toward book costs to those that cover a student’s entire tuition and fees. They are also supplemental to other scholarships a student can receive from the university from which he or she is getting a degree.

The average amount awarded this fall was about $2,000, and 20 students received the full scholarship, she said.

Of the roughly 634 students who applied for a scholarship this fall, about 316 received one.

“We still have work to be done,” Dinicola-Wagle said.

The Shady Grove officials said the institution hears most often from scholarship recipients that the extra funds allowed them to work less, cut back on student loans, and gain some emotional support.

Taking out a loan is a risk for students, Edelstein said, and many at Shady Grove are “risk averse” for a variety of reasons, including life circumstances and the economy.

Edelstein said the institution sees a high level of degree completion but wants the scholarships to help keep students at school and full-time members.

“We know that we can increase the degree completion,” he said.

For Hoes and other students, the scholarships have made an impact.

Hoes said that, before he received the Hilton scholarship, he was working every other Sunday and some Saturdays to help support himself and his mom. One of his friends helped him purchase textbooks.

“It was really hard trying to, you know, pull the money together and pay the bills,” said Hoes, a junior in the management program.

Hoes said that because he received the scholarship he has not had to work in the past month and doesn’t have to worry about taking out an additional student loan.

“If I didn’t get the scholarship opportunity, I definitely would have had to apply for more loans because of my tuition and to pay for my books,” he said.

For Tony Franks, 23, his Camille & Clifford Kendall Endowed Scholarship — which covers the entire year’s tuition and fees — allowed him to continue school this semester during a time when finances are tight. As a scholarship recipient, he said, he will also participate in a program in which he will work with a business mentor.

Franks — who will graduate in May with a communication degree from the University of Maryland, College Park — said he has worked a number of jobs throughout his college career.

“I’m the sixth of seven children so my whole school career I’ve been paying the majority of my tuition,” said Franks, who is the Shady Grove center’s primary representative on the University System of Maryland Student Council.

This semester, however, marked a big change in his financial situation, Franks said. He moved out of his parents’ house and is now responsible for expenses, including those for rent and food, that he didn’t face before.

Scholarship in hand, he said, he has been able to cut down on his work schedule.

“Life is a breeze now,” he said.