Foundation Scholarship Program Goes Paperless

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Returning Gateway Community College (GCC) students can now apply for 2013-2014 scholarships offered by the Gateway Community College Foundation (GCCF). Their experience will be different than that of past applicants, however, since this marks the first time the entire process will be online.

The new scholarship procedure enables students to fill out their applications via a link on Gateway homepage under “Student Services Central.” Once there, all the information that previously had to be filled out manually is inputted.

For scholarships requiring letters of recommendation, applicants will need to provide names and e-mail addresses of those they requested to write such letters. “Recommenders” will then receive an e-mail that includes a link to the scholarship website, where they can sign up, create a password, and follow instructions on how to submit letters of recommendation. Once students initiate a scholarship application, they should monitor the site to see if their letters of recommendation have been submitted.

In one intuitive application, prospective recipients can search and apply for all available scholarship for which they qualify and be sure they match donor requirements. It also allows the GCCF to maintain audited records of historical activity for scholarships. This online application system is provided by AcademicWorks, a leading provider of scholarship management solutions to higher education institutions and foundations.

Several other benefits make the initial investment in this new system a good business move, according to Lindy Lee Gold, chair of the GCCF Board of Directors.

“Long term, this will decrease costs for printing and copying applications, save administrative time, reduce paper waste and increase the funding available for direct student assistance,” she explained. “The process is also easier – especially for today’s ‘tech-savvy’ students – which increases the likelihood that even more qualified applicants will complete the process.”

Using this new system will be less time intensive for volunteer scholarship reviewers, noted Martha Fernald, GCCF Board member and chair of this year’s Scholarship Committee.

“It also enables the Foundation to create profile pages to thank our donors for their generosity and vision,” Fernald added. “This encourages them to continue, and perhaps even expand, their scholarship support.” Fernald also acknowledged the hard work of last year’s Scholarship Committee, several members of which helped evaluate the benefits of automating the scholarship process.

According to Mary Ellen Cody, GCC’s dean of Development and Community Partnerships, 134 scholarships, valued at more than $100,000 will be available for the 2013-2014 academic year.

“Our beautiful new downtown campus has been such a huge success that we have experienced a marked increase in enrollment,” she said. “Along with that good news, we also are seeing more students in need of financial assistance to help make their dreams of a higher education come true. That’s why we are doing all we can to not only make more scholarships available, but to make the process of applying for them easier.”

Cody singled out two GCC staff members, Susan Swirsky and Dr. Matthew Long, for their contributions in getting the new system operational.

The scholarship application process closes April 26, and awards will be announced no earlier than mid-May. If you have any questions, please contact Susan Swirsky at (203) 285-2617 or via e-mail at