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Reentry Scholarships Help Students Finish Their Degrees

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Reentry Scholarships Help Students Finish their Degrees

 

What if you aren’t a fresh-faced freshman? Is there a scholarship out there for someone who is older and hasn’t completed a bachelor’s degree? 

Yes, they are called reentry scholarships. 

The Bernard Osher Reentry Scholarship is for students between the ages of 25 and 50 who have a five-year cumulative gap in their undergraduate education. Texas State is the only university in the state to offer the Osher Reentry Scholarship. Since its inception at the university in 2011, about 53 Osher Reentry Scholarship recipients have graduated, says Kimberly Garrett, associate director, Endowment Services. Each year, the university distributes $50,000-plus in Osher funds for tuition and fees. 

“These students are usually 3.5 to 4.0 (GPA) students. They are serious about getting that degree and they are working hard to do it,” Garrett says. These are full- and part-time students and the scholarship is renewable as long as the students are making progress. “It really makes a difference. These are students and individuals who have been working in the real world and understand how a college degree provides opportunities that can improve their professional lives,” she says. 

FINDING STUDENTS 

When the scholarship was introduced at Texas State, it was Garrett’s job to get the word out and find those who met the criteria. She compiled a list of older students and sent a mass email. She explained how they had to have a gap in their college education and attached an application to the email. That first year the university received 70 applications and 25 students received the award. In 2018-19, there were 23 applications accepted — 11 were from existing Osher scholars and 12 were new applications. 

BRING BOBCATS BACK 

Bring Bobcats Back (BBB) was created in 2018 to encourage students to return to Texas State and finish their degrees. Scholarships between $1,000 and $5,000 are distributed to students who meet the criteria. Eligible students are:

 • U.S. citizens

• pursuing their first bachelor’s degree

• between the ages of 25 and 50

• committed to degree completion

• those who have experienced an interruption in their education of five or more years 

Gary Ray, associate vice president, Enrollment Management and Marketing, says that more than 350 former Texas State “stop outs” were invited to apply the first year the scholarship was available; from that initial pool, 57 responded and 20% were enrolled. 

Funding for BBB is being generated by a $100,000 grant from the California-based Crankstart Foundation. Crankstart was started by philanthropist and author Sir Michael Moritz and his wife, Harriet Heyman. The Welsh-born Moritz is a venture capitalist and former journalist who has donated millions to universities and foundations around the world. 

Business management major Meaghan Ponder is a recipient of the BBB grant. She is set to graduate in December. “Finishing my degree had always been a goal, but I always seemed to find reasons that the time wasn’t right. Budgeting money to return to school was a reason at the top of the list for not returning to school,” she says. “When I was offered a Bring Bobcats Back grant, I realized that there was no time like the present to make  my graduation goal a reality. This grant program is a win-win for any returning student.” ✪