Transfer scholarships to be expanded for next year

James Dyer

Four new scholarships, aimed at making NMU more accessible and attractive to transfer students, will be offered this fall.
These scholarships are available to all NMU transfer students who achieved a 3.00 Grade Point Average (GPA) at their previous college and have taken at least 12 credits that are transferable to NMU. The new scholarships will replace the Transfer Merit Scholarship, which was only available to transfer students who achieved a 3.5 GPA or higher, and the only scholarship available specifically for transfer students.

These new scholarships, while still based on academic GPA, have been broken into various GPA levels to accommodate more students.

“We wanted to keep [NMU] competitive in the transfer market, so we made these scholarships more available to transfer students,” said Mike Rotundo, the director of Financial Aid at NMU.

The scholarship levels range from the Transfer Recognition Award, which offers students with a 3.00 – 3.24 cumulative transfer GPA $500 a year, to the Transfer Excellence Award, which offers $2,000 to students who earned a 3.75 – 4.00 cumulative transfer GPA. These scholarships will be given to any students who meet the qualifications, and can be renewed for up to six semesters by maintaining a 3.00 GPA, said Rotundo.

“Transfer students bring in their transcripts to be evaluated, and then we decide which credits to accept,” he said. “We then identify which students are available for which scholarships.”

The scholarships do not need to be applied for, and will be awarded to all who qualify upon completion of a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), Rotundo said.

“When I transferred, all the scholarships [for transfer students] were highly competitive,” said Jeremy Cilc, a junior psychology major and a transfer student from Eastern Michigan University (EMU).

Cilc transferred here after his freshman year. As a transfer student with an average GPA, Cilc didn’t have many scholarship opportunities open to him.

“I got a couple of small amount scholarships that helped pay for books, but a lot of my tuition comes out of pocket,” he said.
Many of his classmates who transferred from EMU to other schools received scholarships similar to the awards NMU is offering this fall, Cilc said.

“There are a lot of transfer  students out there who are working hard with [below 3.5 GPA’s] who weren’t receiving anything,” said Kevin Stulz, the associate director of admissions at NMU.

The new scholarships are based off the scholarship packages that other universities have begun to offer transfer students, and are very similar to the scholarships available to incoming freshman, Stulz said.

“Because of the economy, many students are staying close to home, and taking classes at community colleges for a year before going on to universities,” Stulz said.

Many of these students are attracted to NMU because of specific academic programs that are offered, or because of an academic environment that appeals directly to them, Stulz said.

The admissions office has decided to become more transfer friendly after receiving 540 transfer students in the fall of 2009; this was a 20 percent increase from the 437 students reported in the fall of 2008 said Stulz.

“We’re expecting [this trend] to continue, both because of the economy, and because people are deciding to stay a little closer to home for their first few years of college,” he said.

Stulz, an NMU alumni, said that the goal of the NMU Admissions Office is to find the right match for students who are floating around between colleges trying to get an education.

“The transfer scholarships are really just another piece of the puzzle. It goes along with the environment, academic programs, and student organizations that we have here. All of those pieces come together, and if they’re the right match, everybody wins,” said Stulz.