The Student Government Association here at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point is giving away a combined total of $70,000 in scholarships for the next academic year. Of this money, $30,000 will be offered to returning students and $40,000 to incoming freshman. Individual awards will be between $500-$1,000.
This money comes from an account through US Bank. According to SGA Inclusivity Director Shantanu Pai, the account is linked to an eight-year contract between SGA and the US Bank location in the DUC that began in 2008. At that time, the UW Credit Union, the other bidder, lost the contract to US Bank by a narrow margin vote.
It is stipulated in the contract that when the percentage of students who synchronize their student ID to a US Bank debit account increases and reaches a certain benchmark, US Bank contributes a set dollar amount to the scholarship account. This money sits in the account, accumulating no interest, until SGA disperses it to students who apply for, and merit, the scholarships.
Right now the percentage of student usage is around 28 percent.
Normally the amount of scholarships distributed by the SGA per year is only $12,000. Because of the increase in student accounts with US Bank, SGA has increased the total distribution. “We really need to be giving out as much as we can,” Pai said.
Pai also said that he wanted to see the application process simplified and made accessible to all students. “We’ve created this buzz around campus and people have applied,” he said. The SGA has been attaching reminders to the UWSP Student Buz, Biz and Messages of the Day (MODs).
Availability for awards for returning students are based on three clearly defined areas: merit, university service and inclusivity. Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or greater; they must demonstrate their service on campus, such as involvement in student organizations, employment or volunteer programs; thirdly, they are encouraged to describe something about their background that has contributed to diversity at UWSP.
“This is student governance money,” said SGA President Ryan Rutledge. This is why consideration for awards is based largely on applicant contributions to UWSP.
Rutledge and Pai both agree that all of the students who have already applied are extremely qualified. They say that these are the kinds of students they want to represent the UWSP campus. These scholarships are intended, in part, to retain outstanding students like these so they can continue to represent academic excellence and integrity at the university.
Applications are due by March 15 at 5 p.m. Access to the document can be found in the mass student emails and on the SGA webpage.