Webster students explore their financial aid options

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Different scholarships have different benefits. Webster’s scholarships were the reason sophomore Lonni Helm came to Webster.

Webster offers a variety of scholarships to freshman, transfer and international students. For some students, a scholarship from Webster is the deciding factor between attending here or another university. Although, not all scholarships are clearly outlined to students, causing confusion.

With yearly tuition amounting to about $28,000, scholarships, especially full tuition, are highly valued. Webster funds a few full-ride scholarships, including the Presidential, Chancellor’s and Donald M. Suggs scholarships.

With over 15 different scholarships in total, prospective and current students have several options.

Sophomore Lonni Helm said her main reason for coming to Webster was affordability. In her last year of high school, she applied and was selected for the Chancellor’s scholarship. Helm said that the award helped her avoid massive student loan debt, as she only had to take out one loan her first year for housing.

“It’s been very nice to only have to worry about a little over $3,000 rather than my alternative, which was $30,000 to $120,000,” Helm said. “It’s definitely been a really big weight off my shoulders.”

According to sophomore Emma Kramer, another Chancellor’s recipient, the scholarship gave her the ability to attend the university.

Graphic by Kenzie Akins.

“I would not be able to afford this school without that scholarship, and it was what made my final decision when I was looking for colleges,” Kramer said. “When I received that scholarship is when I finally committed and started telling people where I was going.”

Along with scholarships and other aid from Webster, most students can also utilize the Federal Work Study scholarship, which can help fill in the gaps that scholarship funds do not cover, like housing or textbooks.

The university’s Director of Public Relations, Patrick Giblin, did not respond to a request for interviews with Financial Aid staff to discuss Webster’s scholarship opportunities. However, work study jobs available on-campus are occasionally posted to Handshake, and the university website lists all scholarships and their criteria.

Helm has worked as a Gorlok Guide since September 2019. She discovered the job on Handshake. Helm says the funds from her job have helped her pay for various living expenses and textbooks.

“The past two semesters it’s been really, really helpful … Especially because I am taking 18 credit hours, along with having two jobs, so it’s kind of a nice way to be able to make money without having to worry about traveling,” Helm said.

However, senior Sadija Begic has had a different experience with her work study job. Begic worked in the Department of Management since her first semester until October 2020. 

Begic said that paired with her other scholarships, grants and loans, the work study job was not worth the money she made.

“After two weeks, your paychecks are like $80, and to me, that wasn’t really anything. If I didn’t have class that day, I’d still have to drive up to Webster and work. And I live in Arnold, Missouri,” Begic said. “It just wasn’t worth making that commute anymore.”

Luckily for Begic, she received enough in scholarships to make up for most of the lost work study money, but she still had to take out loans for school expenses. Working off-campus, she makes more money than the work study offer because she can secure more hours.

According to a report by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, almost half a million students in the U.S. are receiving work study at an average of $1,700. If a student does not use their work study award, it is revoked at the end of the year, possibly leaving them with an unexpected bill.

Begic was unaware of this and said Webster should communicate this more clearly to students.

Helm expressed similar concerns and suggested that Webster could do more in helping students needing and looking for scholarships.

“I know that there are a ton of scholarships for returning students that I feel don’t really get publicized, usually. I do wish that they did a bit more to publicize those and let people know that they’re available.” Helm said.

Kramer, although stating she has had a positive experience with Financial Aid, said that she believes there is an inconsistency with how the university communicates with different classifications of students.

“I feel like there is such a different attitude when it comes to people that are in a non-traditional college experience. They [Webster] really don’t give the same energy to guiding other students to scholarships, like they would someone coming in from high school,” Kramer said. “I think they do for first-time freshmen who are coming in the traditional way. I feel like once you get to Webster, the conversation kind of dies … Which definitely makes a difference in how much debt students accumulate when they transfer.”

Students can explore scholarship and other financial aid options on Webster’s website here.

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Kate McCracken
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