In an economic climate where tuition fees support the University more than the state of California does, scholarships have become even more pertinent. While more scholarship money is being awarded to students than in previous years, fewer financial opportunities are now offered at SF State.
The University processed more money for scholarships in 2011-12 than 2008-09. A total of $3.4 million was awarded in 2011-12, as compared to $2.9 million during 2008-09, according to SF State budget books.
“I think that people should be able to obtain a higher education easily,” political science major Molly Linares said. “The tuition fees are too high and the state should be supporting the school more actively.”
The number of students applying and winning scholarships has decreased by 9 percent since 2008-09, despite the increasing amount given per scholarship. According to University spokeswoman Ellen Griffin, about 2,021 people were awarded scholarships in the 2008-09 year. In the 2011-12 year, it was down to 1,839 people.
In 2008 the amount of money awarded to the University by the state began to shrink, causing administrators to look for alternative sources of revenue. In the 2007-08 year, tuition fees and other support made up 36 percent of University funding, while state support made up 64 percent. The 2012-13 year tuition fees and other support totals 69 percent with state support at 31 percent, according to the SF State Office of Budget Administration and Operations.
To make up the gap in funding, many look toward scholarships. Currently, 70 recipients receive funding through the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which covers all in-state registration fees for eight semesters and offers a chance to register early for classes.
But incoming students will not have the chance to benefit from the program. The program has not admitted any new applicants since Fall 2011 due to a lack of funding, according to Gail Evans, administrator of the program and dean of undergraduate studies.
“We have admitted 20 scholars every year. However, we did not admit any this year due to fiscal restraints,” Evans said.
The Presidential Scholars Program is not the only University scholarship program that has suffered a decrease in funding.
According to Kirill Chernomaz, assistant professor in economics at SF State, the department has had to skip giving out some scholarships over the past few years. This year, the department was able to give out three scholarships — the George Feliz Scholarship, the Don Scoble Scholarship and Ramona K. First Scholarship.
“Like many departments, there isn’t as much funding coming in,” Chernomaz said. “A couple years ago we couldn’t give out scholarships due to that.”
Chernomaz thinks the higher volume of cash awarded during 2011-12 might be linked to a slight improvement in the economy, as compared to 2008-09.
“Some of the scholarships come out of an endowment, and the places that give away the money generate the money that could be used for that,” Chernomaz said. “(The 2008-09) year was a bad year for the economy, so that could explain why there was less money given away for scholarships.”
According to Paul Atwater, presidential scholar and film major at SF State, scholarships are a way for students to gain access to what they deserve — an education.
“I think in principle, scholarships are meant to help students get the opportunities they deserve,” Atwater said. “In fact, these days they seem all but required for most students, what with the tuition costs of higher education.”