SMC Simplifies Scholarship Process

Located in the Financial Aid department on campus is the Scholarship office within Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, Calif. The Scholarship office works to match students with potential scholarships and the removal of letters of recommendations should allow more students to apply. February 23, 2018. (Photo by: Ethan Lauren)

Located in the Financial Aid department on campus is the Scholarship office within Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, Calif. The Scholarship office works to match students with potential scholarships and the removal of letters of recommendations should allow more students to apply. February 23, 2018. (Photo by: Ethan Lauren)

With over 400 scholarships totaling over $600,000, the scholarship office at Santa Monica College and the Santa Monica College Foundation has been working to get students matched up with potential scholarships. The deadline to apply was Feb. 23, 2018, but work is in progress to make future applications smoother.

One recent change that happened in this year’s online application process was making letters of recommendations optional. Previously, students who applied were required to submit two letters from faculty at SMC.

William Bloom, the Associate Dean of Financial Aid and Scholarships, has been working in this position since the summer of 2017. He has been working alongside others to streamline the process to make it simpler for students to apply. Blooms said that he found the requirement for letters to be more of a roadblock for students rather than a benefit. Instead, more emphasis will be placed on the students merits and interests.

“If the student is unable to get them or does not have them, we will still consider their application,” Bloom said regarding students who applied this year. “Some faculty members might say, ‘This is one of my favorite students and I still want to write a letter,’ we will accept it this year. But next year they will be phased out.”

With around 1,400 students having applied to scholarships through SMC, past recipients have mentioned how beneficial they were for school. Salena Nguyen, a political science major, has received two awards for $1,000 each. 

“I needed money for school and I remember when I first learned about it, they said that the check was for anything. I figured that would help with housing and food and it didn’t have to directly go into my enrollment fees.” Nguyen said.

For those who missed the deadline for SMC, Bloom encouraged them to apply for scholarships outside of school that are available. The scholarship office works to find these scholarships and makes them accessible for students. 

For students who didn’t apply for this year’s scholarships at SMC or want to apply to even more, Bloom suggests the website, ‘www.fastweb.com’ which is free to use and matches users to potential scholarships.

Bloom suggests students applying for scholarships never to pay when applying for a "guaranteed" scholarship, and make sure that the entity giving the scholarship is reputable. He also suggested that the students should take their personal statements and tailor them to the specific place they're applying it towards by finding common values.

Recipients of scholarships will attend a small ceremony on June 9 to celebrate and get everyone together. Bloom said, “We’re talking about coming out for an afternoon, have some refreshments, meet the folks because they want to see you. They want to talk to you about your studies, what your plans are, they get a kick out of these things.”

Though scholarships are just one part of the work that Bloom does at SMC, he has strong feelings towards the subject.

“If I see someone walk the stage with their cap and gown and their credential and think that we may have played a small part in that, it feels pretty good,” Bloom said. “That’s why we’re here. I work real hard to make sure that we’re not a reason that the student can’t be successful and that we are a reason they can be successful.”