By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter
Financial hardships, which have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, are a significant obstacle to students continuing their program of study. Recognizing this hurdle, the Ellucian Foundation is again offering the Progress, Accomplishment, Thriving, Hope (PATH) Scholarship Program for 2022 to help higher education institutions support students experiencing economic hardship.
Eligible institutions have until June 15 to apply for the scholarship, which is awarded in a single block grant between $10,000 and $25,000, with the ability to award up to $1,500 for individual students.
Now in its third year, the PATH Scholarship Program has so far provided more than $1 million in scholarships to eligible higher education institutions, benefiting more than 1,100 students.
For 2022, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and all colleges and universities designated as minority-serving institutions (MSIs) by U.S. federal statute are invited to apply for the program.
“We want to make sure every one of these schools in the United States knows about this and then help as many of them as possible to apply so that we can really get these resources out to students,” said Kirsten Weeks, senior director of corporate social responsibility at Ellucian.
Since the scholarship’s inception, Blue Icon Advisors, NASFAA’s consulting entity, has been heavily involved in the planning and implementation process, and have utilized their expertise to help ensure institutions can participate in the program.
“We've been involved since the first year,” said Tony Erwin, Blue Icon’s principal consultant, FAAC®. “Blue Icon’s involvement has included assistance with designing the scholarship program, the application process, coordinating and participating on the scholarship selection committee, and gathering and reporting recipient information back to the Ellucian Foundation.”
Extensive experience in financial aid policy, delivery, and student support positions Blue Icon as uniquely qualified to assist in the continued implementation of this valuable student centric resource.
“They've been a critical partner in the design, and they've continued to help us evolve the program across the last three years,” Weeks said. “One really vital role they play is that they compose the judging committee so Blue Icon is solely responsible for bringing together a group of diverse and thoughtful leaders to read these applications and to make decisions about who is selected. So that's absolutely vital.”
For students, access to these resources can be a much needed lifeline.
“My parents were affected by COVID-19, making them not able to work. This year my uncle passed away from COVID-19, funeral expenses were left for my family and me to pay,” shared a student and 2021 PATH Scholarship recipient from the University of Houston. “Although we still have a lot of financial burdens, it is a relief of fresh air to have help paying for school.”
PATH scholarship funds can cover both students’ direct expenses such as tuition and fees, as well as indirect expenses such as housing, technology, transportation, child care, books and supplies.
The application materials can be found on the Ellucian Submission Portal (stayonpath.org).
“I would encourage any school that's interested to apply and work with us if they have any questions,” Erwin said. “This is a well-funded program with a good structure in place that is meant to be flexible. Schools should be optimistic that if they apply, they have a good chance of being funded.”
Publication Date: 6/7/2022
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