Q: What is the process to apply for scholarships and loans?
A: We are pleased to offer a streamlined, online application for students who wish to apply for our scholarships and interest-free loans. Our user-friendly system submits your completed electronic common application to over 140 available scholarships.
Q: When do I submit my online application?
A. You must complete the online application between January 1 through March 31 each year. A copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) for the upcoming academic year, as well as your most recent academic transcript, must be uploaded with the online application for completion.
If you’re a graduating high school senior, you can request a transcript through your school’s guidance offices. If you’re currently attending college, you can request a transcript through the college’s Registrar or Academic Records Office, or through your student portal.
Q: What if I don’t have internet access or a computer at home to submit the online application?
A: We recommend contacting a local library, community center, employment agency or senior center to determine if your are eligible to use the free or minimal cost public use computer terminals. If you’re unable to access a computer with internet service please contact us at email@example.com or at (413) 732-2858 at least one week prior to the close of the application.
Q: Can I reapply each year?
A: Yes! We strongly encourage you to reapply each year! You must complete the online application every year in which you wish to be considered for scholarships or interest-free loans. Please keep in mind that receipt of an award for one academic year does not guarantee that an award will be granted in a subsequent year. Conversely, if you did not receive an award in a previous year, don’t be discouraged from reapplying in another year.
Q: What is a FAFSA and where is it available?
A: FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the first step in determining a student’s eligibility for federal, state and sometimes college financial assistance. There is no charge to complete this document. Go to http://www.fafsa.gov to begin the process.
Q: What is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?
A: Upon completion of the FAFSA, the student will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is a document providing basic information about a student’s eligibility for federal student aid as well as the answers to other questions on the FAFSA. A student usually receives this document electronically. The SAR is several pages long. Be sure to provide us with the entire document (approximately six pages) and not just the confirmation page.
Q: Do I need to send an official copy of my transcript?
A: You must upload your academic transcript with you application—meaning that a copy of an original is acceptable. However, the transcript must show the following:
1) Your name
2) Your college’s / school’s name
3) The website URL (if it is retrieved from a student portal)
4) All coursework you’re currently enrolled in, and all grades received in courses to date.
5) Your cumulative GPA (not just the GPA earned in a given semester).
In all cases, we reserve the right to request that an official transcript copy be submitted.
Q: Do I have to write an essay for the application?
A: Yes. All applicants are required to complete at least one short and one longer essay.
Your essay is vital to helping our selection committee select recipients because it allows them to learn more about you than just your grades, activities, and achievements. Your essay is your moment to shine, show your personality, share your goals passions, and compel our reviewers. We encourage you to take care in creating your essay, as it is your chance to “stand out” from other applicants.
Q: Are only those students who live in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties eligible for scholarships and interest-free loans?
A: Most of our scholarships and interest-free loans are limited to residents of Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. We do offer a handful of scholarships for which students residing outside of the area are eligible. Your residency is determined from the address listed on your FAFSA. In addition, the interest-free Colgan Loan is limited to residents of Massachusetts who have resided in the state for a minimum of five years.
Q: Are part-time students eligible?
A: Yes. Unless otherwise noted in the scholarship or interest-free loan descriptions, full-time and part-time students pursuing higher education at an accredited institution in the U.S. are eligible for scholarships and/or loans.
Q: Are scholarships and loans available to graduate students?
A: Yes. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for scholarships and interest-free loans, unless otherwise noted in the description.
Q: Do I have to attend a college or university in Massachusetts?
A: No. Scholarships and interest-free loans are awarded to eligible students enrolled in accredited colleges and universities anywhere in the U.S., unless otherwise noted in the description for the scholarship or interest-free loan.
Q: How are recipients selected?
A: A committee of community volunteers selects recipients based on the specific criteria of the scholarship or interest-free loan. With the exception of a few awards, your financial need is strongly taken into consideration. Your academic history is also considered, as are your essays submitted with the application.
Q: When are decisions made, and when will I find out if I received an award?
A: Generally, we make decisions are made by the end of May, and we notify recipients by the end of June.
Q: What is the maximum amount of scholarships and interest-free loans I can receive from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts?
A: If you’re attending a four-year school, you can receive up to $8,000 in scholarships in any one award year. If you’re a community college student, and or attending other two-year schools, you can receive up to $4,000 in scholarships in any one award. Students attending both two and four year colleges are also eligible to receive one, $3,000 interest-free loan in a given award year.
Q: What expenses can scholarships cover?
A: Scholarships may be used to offset tuition, fees, room and board, and other items included as part of the cost for attending the institution. Some part and/or all of the award could be considered taxable income. We recommend checking with your college or tax accountant regarding this matter.
If you’re enrolled in less than six credits, scholarships are payable for tuition and fees only.
If you’re enrolled at a for-profit institution, scholarships payable for tuition only.
Q: Will a scholarship from the Community Foundation affect my financial aid package?
A: Financial aid packages may be adjusted to reflect scholarships other than those granted by the college. Usually a college or university will first use an outside scholarship to replace unmet need, or reduce the amount of loans or work study before adjusting grants or scholarships. However, policies vary at each college, and we strongly encourage you to check with the Financial Aid Office at your school.
Q: How do I receive my scholarship and/or interest-free loan award?
A: Scholarships are paid directly to your college, and after your enrollment is verified for the semester. The full amount of your awarded scholarship is generally paid in the fall semester, however there are exceptions. If this is the case, we will notify you directly.
We will pay interest-free loans directly to you once we receive all the completed documents that accompany the award notification.
Q: What if I withdrawal or only attend one semester in an academic year?
A: We will address this situation will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.