Group of 53 students earned $10,000 or more during the past year in scholarships
Ethan Lucas anticipates he’ll graduate from UW-La Crosse a year from now with no debt.
His secret? Scholarships.
Lucas was one of 53 students recognized for their scholarship earning prowess during UWL’s first ever Maroon Tycoon event at the end of spring semester. The event celebrated students who earned $10,000 or more in UWL Foundation scholarships or other private scholarships from external sources during the past academic year.
The event is a way of demonstrating that students can pay for an academic year of tuition — less than $10,000 in tuition and fees for Wisconsin and Minnesota residents — by being persistent and dedicated to the scholarship search and application process, says Josh Bonnell, UWL’s scholarship coordinator who helped plan the event.
UWL’s Director of Financial Aid Louise Janke had the idea of starting the Maroon Tycoon as a way of raising awareness about the vast pool of scholarships available to students — including private scholarships.
“I think we do a good job of celebrating students who receive institutional awards, but I don’t think it is well known that a number of our students are very successful at achieving private scholarships as well,” she says.
UWL students collectively earned about $4.3 million dollars in external scholarships and $2.1 million in institutional aid in 2017-18, according to UWL Institutional Research data.
At UWL, students have support in their scholarship search and application process. UWL’s Scholarship Resource Center, located in 215 Graff Main Hall, is dedicated to encouraging and assisting students with application for scholarships, grants and cash awards. Call 608.785.6680 to schedule an appointment or email the SRC at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Scholarship Resource center website to learn more.
Lucas considered the potential return on investment when he decided to start applying. By investing just two or three hours of time on an application, he could potentially earn hundreds or thousands of dollars and save himself months or even years of time working to pay that back.
Lucas applied for a scholarship in high school even though he wasn’t sure he had a chance of getting it. He did. That scholarship from The Ab Nicholas Scholarship Foundation ended up providing him funding over the course of his college career.
The geography major then applied for ten UWL Foundation scholarships and ended up earning one — the Margaret Chew Scholarship for Geography Majors this past academic year. The additional boost has made a big difference in his goal of graduating debt free.
When applying for scholarships, Lucas, of Boscobel, Wisconsin, likes to paint a picture of who he is — his academic and personal interests, career goals and family background. “If you can be yourself and put yourself into the scholarship application, that helps the person reading it get to know you and not just why you want the money,” he says.
UWL marketing major Emily Swenson agrees that it is important to be yourself when applying. She also advises not to disregard scholarships for smaller amounts. “Every little bit counts,” she says.
Scholarships have helped her worry less about making ends meet, so she can focus on school. “I had the opportunity to join campus organizations where I learned various leadership skills and expanded my network as well,” she says. “I’m very thankful for all donors as my success in school thus far would not have existed without their support.”
Lucas encourages others to give scholarships at try — or many tries. “I think of it this way — If you don’t apply, you definitely will not get it,” he says.