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Scholarship Office Provides Friendly Aid Process

Students seeking scholarship help at MCC can turn to an office unique to community colleges in the state. The Scholarships Office assists students with the process and also the evaluators judging their requests.

"It's a very effective program," said Pam Hedberg, the director. "I'm very proud of the services we provide. We are fortunate to have approximately 60 dedicated review committee members, many of whom are faculty and administrators of the College, who spend countless hours ranking scholarship applications. Numerous scholarships are awarded based on their efforts. The most rewarding part of what we do is hear from the students how scholarships have enriched their lives."

Ms. Hedberg works closely with the Middlesex County College Foundation, which has provided over $10 million in aid to 15,000 students over its almost 50-year history. During the recent economic slowdown, scholarship support lagged, but it has come back and in 2012, provided $425,000 in aid to 342 students. While the books aren't closed on this year, support is already over the half-million-dollar mark.

The Scholarships Office administers more than 100 endowed and annual scholarships. These awards have criteria established by the donor. Students fill out one common online application to be considered by the review committees. They can also apply for general Foundation awards, many of which go to students who – for one reason or another – do not qualify for other financial aid.

"It could be that they experienced a loss of a job, or that, while they are living at home, their family is not supporting them financially at college, or it might be some other change in circumstance," Ms. Hedberg said. "But the most common issue is that the student already has a degree. They are not eligible for federal aid, so we try to help them."

Ms. Hedberg said the online application process, called "STARS Online," has made the process easier for both student and evaluator, so much so that the number of applicants has increased from 200 a few years ago to 1200 last year. The process has another benefit.

"We probably save 100 trees a year," she said.