Q: What is the process to apply for scholarships and loans?
A: We are pleased to offer streamlined, online applications for students who wish to apply for our scholarships and interest-free loans. The online application opens January 1 and closes March 31. Decisions about recipients are made during May and June.
There is a separate application for an interest-free loan. That application opens on June 1 and closes January 31. Students can apply at any time during this period and a decision will be made within two weeks of applying.
Q: When do I submit my online application?
A. You must complete the online application between January 1 through March 31 each year.
Q: Can I apply for scholarships and loans through the same applications?
A: No. Unlike in previous years, there are now separate applications and deadlines for scholarships and loans.
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 you 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at (413) 732-2858 at least one week prior to the close of the application.
Q: Can I reapply for scholarships 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. 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: Can I reapply for an interest-free loan?
A: Students can reapply for an interest-free loan each year they are attending college. Students are eligible to receive up to $12,000 in loans throughout the time they are in college.
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 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 with my scholarship application?
A: You can submit either a copy of an official transcript or an unofficial transcript. The transcript must show the following:
1) Your name
2) Your college’s / high school’s name or the website URL clearly indicating the name of your college 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: All scholarship applicants are required to complete at least one essay, and possibly other shorter ones.
Your essay is vital to our selection committee 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 and passions, and compel our reviewers. We encourage you to take care in creating your essay, as it is your chance to stand out.
There is no essay requirement for an interest-free educational loan.
Q: Are only those students who live in Franklin, Hampshire or Hampden counties eligible for scholarships?
A: Most of our scholarships are limited to residents of Franklin, Hampshire or 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.
Q: Where do I have to live to be eligible for an interest-free educational loan?
A: Students eligible to receive the James Colgan Loan must currently live in Massachusetts and have done so 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 about scholarship recipients by the end of May, and students are notified by the end of June. Because students can apply for a loan anytime between June 1 and January 31, we will notify you if you received a loan within two weeks after you submit your application.
Q: What is the maximum dollar 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 $3,000 in scholarships in any one award year. Students attending two- or 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 are payable for tuition only.
Q: Will a scholarship from the Community Foundation affect my financial aid package?
A: Colleges may adjust financial aid packages 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 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 you have completed the necessary steps and paperwork. More information about our interest-free loan process can be found here.
Q: What if I withdraw or only attend one semester in an academic year?
A: We will address this situation on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Can I apply for scholarships and interest-free loans without knowing where I will be going to school?
A: Yes! We encourage you to apply for our scholarships and interest-free loans as long as you will be attending a college in the coming academic year.
Q: If I am not a first-year student, am I still eligible for the scholarships and interest-free loan programs?
A: Yes! You do not need to be a first-year student to qualify for our scholarships and interest-free loans.
Q: What happens if I defer my enrollment in the Fall semester due to COVID-19?
A: Even if you are not sure what your plans are due to COVID-19, you are still encouraged to apply for our scholarships and interest-free loans. We will address these situations on a case-by-case basis.
Additional questions? Contact us at email@example.com