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Scholarships benefit PAC Students

By Carla Galindo | Pulse staff reporter

ScholarhipsMany students struggle to find ways to pay for tuition and are not aware of free money available to them.

At Palo Alto College, information on scholarships is available at the Center for Academic Transitions and on the Palo Alto College website. Academic advisers also offer assistance and guidance for students with the applications.

Matthew Torres is the Transfer and Scholarship intern for the Center for Academic Transitions, located at the College Student Center, Room 101.  He started working with the scholarship department in October of last year. CAT works with students to find work-study jobs, internships, transfers and scholarships.

Most scholarships require for a minimum 2.0 GPA, an official transcript and an essay. At the CAT, Torres works closely with the students to meet these requirements.

The scholarships system at PAC is divided into two groups. For internal scholarships, a student must apply to Financial Aid to submit a scholarship application. Through the internal scholarships, Torres said 260 students are awarded around $150 to $2,500 per semester.

External Scholarships, Torres said, “If they don’t have Financial Aid, we do have scholarships available that don’t require Financial Aid assistance." The scholarships are displayed at the entrance of the CAT.

Around forty students are granted the external scholarship per semester. Students are awarded up to $2,000 for the semester applied for. Scholarship deadlines and requirements are available on the PAC website under the Current Student’s tab.

A problem a student faces when applying for scholarships is the essay portion. At times, many students are intimidated with writing.

“That’s why I don’t even try to bother with scholarships,” said Debra Lee Rodriquez, a sophomore Criminal Justice major.

Torres said, “I ask them first if they have a problem with their writing, I refer them to the Writing Lab so they can have somebody look over their application and even help them with their writing on their application.”

The CAT center is open on Mondays 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students who have Financial Aid are eligible for the General Scholarship, priority deadline is April 1st.

Many students do take advantage of the CAT, although there are still some students who never have heard of the center and what it offers regarding scholarships, Torres explained.

Sophomore Math Major Natale Soto said, “I heard of it [CAT], but I’ve never been in there.”

Depending on a student’s major, academic advisers also offer assistance to students applying or needing information on where to find scholarships.

Michael Ximenez, director of Student Support Services at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center said, “As an institution as a whole, we all help students with scholarships one way or another.”

“How we undergraduate advising center and STEM advisors primarily [have] been working with scholarships, through the Texas Education Coordinating Board, there is the TSTEM (Texas-Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Scholarship, available for STEM majors,” said Ximenez.

STEM advisers guide and monitor students who have already been awarded the T-STEM, to complete the scholarship requirements. Torres said last semester 72 STEM majors were awarded the T-STEM scholarship, the Ximenez said the award amount is $2500 per year.
The advice Ximenez said students should apply for Financial Aid and the General Scholarship that PAC offers. He also said, students should not limit themselves on one source to find scholarships.

“Look at your place of employment, look at other organizations you’re a part of, look into your community. Some of these small towns offer scholarships. Look at all the places for scholarships, not just one place,” said Ximenez.