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Scholarship Blog

Bay High School Teacher believes in “Paying it Forward”  January 20, 2017

Working in the Foundation offers many rewards especially when it comes to awarding scholarships to deserving high school students.  To see the look on their faces when they receive a scholarship for their hard work is priceless.  But nothing is more inspiring than having a local high school graduate (and former Foundation scholarship recipient) return a few years later and  start their own scholarship fund.

Recently Bay High School teacher Carly Karas started a Foundation scholarship fund called the “Bay High School Class of 2007 – Pay It Forward Scholarship Award“.  Ms. Karas, a class of 2007 Bay High School graduate, was a Foundation scholarship recipient while she attended Gulf Coast State College.  Her scholarship fund will help provide tuition assistance to a Bay High School senior who wants to attend GCSC after graduation.  Ms. Karas noted to the Foundation that she really appreciated having a Foundation scholarship while attending GCSC and wanted to return the favor to a deserving high school senior.

Paying it forward–it is priceless.


2017-2018 Scholarship Application Steps – Removing the GCSC Orientation Requirement  December 8, 2016

One to the changes affecting our application process for new and high school students is the removal of the GCSC orientation requirement. Last year, new and high school applicants had to complete a GCSC orientation before they could begin the application process.  Now they don’t have to.

Thanks to the Gulf Coast State College staff for eliminating this step and making our application process easier.  All a new or high school scholarship applicant has to do now is apply and be accepted to GCSC, as well as, activate their GCSC email and Canvas accounts. 


What are the scholarship consequences of withdrawing from a class?   November 1, 2016

This is the time of year when scholarship recipients come into our office and ask about the consequences of withdrawing from a class.  The quick answer is if a scholarship recipient withdraws from a class, he/she will have to pay back a portion of their scholarship. Pretty simple.  But what happens if he/she wants to stick it out and makes an “F” in the class?  The answer here can get complicated.  The quick answer is he/she will have to repay a portion of the their scholarship because the recipient will not get ‘credit’ for the class.  Just the same as withdrawing from a class.  However if the “F” leads to a total semester GPA less than a 2.0, then the whole scholarship must be repaid back to the Foundation.  For more information on scholarship violations go to pages 6-7 in our Scholarship Guide


Paying for college?  Would you like a discount?   October 17, 2016

When hosting scholarship workshops for the pubic and for students at Gulf Coast State College, I often start out asking the attendees if they would like to have a discount coupon for 30% to 50% off of the cost of classes next term.  Almost everyone raises their hand in the air (I do have some in the crowd that are suspicious).  The point I try to make is that scholarships are very much like discount coupons–except of course, we are offering a $675* discount not $5 off.

Last year our average scholarship award discounted the standard GCSC tuition bill by 45%.  Not quite a BOGO, but close. When talking with students and parents about our scholarships make sure you let them know that our awards can really help offset (or discount) the cost of attending college.  The catch? There is none really–just follow the Foundation’s application process, work hard, and be selected.

*The 2016-2017award amount for a recipient taking 12 or more hours was $675 per semester.  


AcademicWorks – The First Year   October 3, 2016

Last year the Foundation purchased a new scholarship application and awarding system called AcademicWorks.  After a year using the AW system, the results were positive and confirmed to us that we made the right decision to use a new system.  But how did the applicants like AcademicWorks?

This summer we surveyed our applicants and found that 86% were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall application experience. When asked about their experience using AcademicWorks, 75% of our applicants were satisfied or very satisfied with 20% neutral.  We also found that 78% of our applicants were satisfied or very satisfied with logging into the system with 16% neutral.

One of the big changes we made last year was moving the application deadline from March 1st to April 15th.  When we asked our applicants their opinion of the April 15th deadline, 71% liked the new deadline, 14% had no comment, 9% indicated it should be later than April 15th, 3% stated it should be earlier, and 3% liked the old March 1st deadline.

We were very happy with the survey results and as of now the Foundation will not make any major changes to our 2017-2018 scholarship application and awarding process.  If we do make any minor adjustments, we will be sure to let you know.


Over $973,400 Awarded in Foundation Scholarships  September 15, 2016

So far it looks like a great year awarding scholarships to students attending Gulf Coast State College.  As of today, the Foundation has provided over 760 scholarship opportunities for a total award amount of $973,432.  These scholarship awards were given to deserving students who applied and were selected by a scholarship scoring team comprised of GCSC faculty and staff.  Each student will be receiving (on average) $1,350 per year that can be applied to the cost of tuition or books.  The next application cycle for 2017-2018 will begin on January 1, 2017.


Spotlight: The GCSC Culinary Management Program Students  June 6, 2016

The Culinary Management Associate of Science degree is a two-year adventure! There is far more to becoming a chef than learning kitchen skills. Culinary students learn purchasing, pricing menus, supervising employees, designing nutritional meals, and maintaining a sanitary workplace. These skills all weigh heavily in their success in the culinary arts profession.

By attending a program which has gone through and passed the standards set by the educational department of the largest culinary arts organization in the United States (25,000 members), GCSC Culinary students have the assurance that the program content is current, has top professionals teaching in it, has top professionals guiding it, and that they are prepared for networking effectively in the job market after graduation.

All of our culinary students experience quality “hands on” learning by interacting with dining guests in the Josh Holley Dining Room. This state of the art classroom allows instruction that integrates industry technology, systems, and innovation. Each Fall and Spring this classroom serves à la carte luncheon menus, banquet-style “Cuisines of the World” menus, and in the Spring a magnificent dinner featuring frequently changing menus that emphasize the classical French cuisine as was prepared during the lifetime of Escoffier. We consider the John Holley Dining Room to be a place for diners to meet and to enjoy the atmosphere, ambience and culinary delights that the students create and be part of the culinary success of the students.


High School Senior Recognition…we know it’s important to you.  April 18, 2016

We know it is important to you that your seniors are recognized as GCSC Foundation scholarship recipients. However with our April 15th deadline, it will be a tough task to have our listing available to you in time for your recognition or graduation ceremony.  The Foundation will make all reasonable attempts to recognize scholarship recipients who are graduating high school seniors.  The Foundation reserves the right to recognize a high school senior as “a potential scholarship nominee” for recognition purposes; however, please note that the nominee may or may not be officially selected by the scholarship committee.  If you have any questions on recognition, please call Dunkin McLane at (850) 872-3810.


Don’t let the Gremlins creep in  April 4, 2016

Please encourage all of your students to start the application process this week and no later than April 10th.  Why?  Because strange things can happen as applicants rush to complete everything hours and minutes before a deadline–computer systems can freeze up, internet browsers go down, thumb drives with essay answers mysteriously disappear,  passwords do not work, application delays–you get the picture.  Best bet–To avoid errors and last minute unforeseen challenges, start today and have everything completed by April 10th.


The scholarship selection process   March 28, 2016

The Foundation’s scholarship selection process takes approximately four to eight weeks after the scholarship application deadline.  The Foundation’s goal is to find and provide one “general” scholarship to each deserving student who has been selected by the Foundation’s scholarship scoring committee. This is because we have more demand for our scholarships that supply.

A scholarship application review and scoring committee consisting of GCSC faculty and staff will review over 800 scholarship applications. The committee will assign a score and rank each application.  Once the rankings are complete, the Foundation staff will begin the task of finding scholarships that best suit both the donor’s intent, as well as, the student’s needs.  Best bet – please be patient through the process.


Searching for other scholarships   March 14, 2016

If you are interested in helping your students identify additional scholarship resources outside of the GCSC Foundation, a good place to begin is by searching the websites of local community based organizations like Rotary, Optimist, Kiwanis, or other clubs. These organizations will have their own application process and deadlines.  Also, don’t forget local women’s club, garden clubs, service organizations or veterans groups. If you want to go big-try searching foundations that are affiliated with national corporations. The Foundation warns against using scholarship resources that require payment for finding or placing a student in a scholarship.  Best bet – plan ahead, investigate all sources, and follow up!


Scholarship Payouts….what if I am going part-time?  March 7, 2016

When the Foundation announces it’s annual scholarship award amount, it is based on a recipient taking 12 or more credit hours.  For example, the $1,350 annual award amount for 2015-2016 is the amount a recipient would receive if they were taking 12 or more credit hours at the College.  But what happens if a recipient has decided to take less that 12 credit hours?  What is the payout? 

Recipients taking 9 to 11 credit hours will receive 75% of the established scholarship award; recipients taking 6 to 8 credit hours will receive 50% of the established scholarship award.  Recipients electing to take less than 6 credit hours will not be eligible for a scholarship award.  Best bet -please encourage all of your students whether they are going full-time or part-time to apply for Foundation scholarships.


The 100% rule   March 7, 2016

As the scholarship application deadline quickly approaches, remember there is one steadfast rule–100% of the people who don’t apply for a general Foundation scholarship, will not be considered. It is a fact. Please make sure that all of your students know there are plenty of scholarship opportunities available at Gulf Coast State College.  All they need to do is apply.


What is ‘stackable‘ financial aid?  February 15, 2016

Did you know that Foundation scholarships can be combined or “stacked” with other forms of financial aid (i.e. Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, Bright Futures, College Pre-Paid Plans, Work-study programs, other Foundation scholarships, or other outside scholarships)?  Yes they can. In some cases, a scholarship recipient who has other forms of financial aid can not only cover the cost of tuition and books and put money aside for a rainy day.   Best bet-encourage your students and their parents to check out the various forms of financial aid offered through the GCSC Financial Aid Office and various scholarship programs provided by local community organizations. A little work and research can go a long way to completely funding a student’s education.


Would you like a discount? February 1, 2016

When hosting scholarship workshops for the pubic and for students at Gulf Coast State College, I often start out asking the attendees if they would like to have a discount coupon for 30% to 50% off of the cost of classes next term.  Almost everyone raises their hand in the air (I do have some in the crowd that are suspicious).  The point I try to make is that scholarships are very much like discount coupons–except of course, we are offering a $675* discount not $5 off.

Last year our average scholarship award discounted the standard GCSC tuition bill by 45%.  Not quite a BOGO, but close. When talking with students and parents about our scholarships make sure you let them know that our awards can really help offset (or discount) the cost of attending college.  The catch? There is none really–just follow the Foundation’s application process, work hard, and be selected.

*The 2015-2016 award amount for a recipient taking 12 or more hours was $675 per semester.  


It’s an Honor to be Honored. January 25, 2016

Each year the GCSC Foundation awards high school honors scholarships to deserving seniors who are attending a public high school or qualified charter school in Bay, Gulf, or Franklin counties.

These scholarships are special in two ways-first, the scholarships are renewable for a 2nd year and second, the scholarship award amounts are upsized by 35% over generally awarded scholarships. Last year, honors recipients received $1,822/yr. compared to $1,375/yr. given to general scholarship recipients (please see note below).

If you have a senior who has a cumulative “weighted” GPA of 3.5 or higher and is planning to attend Gulf Coast State College in the fall, please encourage him/her to apply.  Here are the requirements:

  1. Must have a cumulative “weighted” grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
  2. Must be a senior graduate in good academic standing.
  3. Must have applied and been accepted to Gulf Coast State College.
  4. Must complete a Gulf Coast State College orientation class.
  5. Must complete all required essays.
  6. Must submit a senior portrait or senior yearbook picture.

Orientation: The GCSC Academic Advising and Success Center is here to help. January 11, 2016

New this year is a requirement that all new and transfer students applying for scholarships will have to complete a GCSC orientation course. This requirement will mainly affect high school seniors (including dual enrolled) who are going to be attending Gulf Coast State College for the first time. 

Rest assured that the GCSC Academic Advising and Success center is focused on helping your students complete the orientation program so this requirement is met before the application period expires.  If you, your students, or their parents have any questions on the GCSC orientation program, please call Barbara Austin, Director of Academic Advising and Success at (850) 872-3871 or [email protected]

Best bet – complete an orientation class before March 1st. Students waiting until the last minute may not have enough time to complete the application and essay questions.


2016-2017 Essay Questions:  January 4, 2016

Many of you have asked us to post the required essay questions on our 2016-2017 scholarship application.  Here are the general and high school honors application questions:

  1. Please tell us about the value of a college education in today’s society and how it relates to you.
  2. Please tell us about your academic and career goals.
  3. Tell us what it would mean to be a scholarship recipient.
  4. (Honors) Who in your life has been your biggest influence and why.
  5. (Honors) How will this scholarship help you in your career goals?
  6. (Honors) What defines you as an honors student?

Applying for General Scholarships: Scholarship Essays – this isn’t texting.  December 14, 2015

As I have mentioned earlier, about 75% of a scholarship application score comes from the answers to the essay questions.  One sure fire way to score LOW on an essay answer is by using “textese”.   You have seen it before–OMG, 2day, K, NBR, ACK, BTW, parNts; or using all CAPS or all lower case.  How about the proverbial 500wordrundonsentancethatneverendsobythewayamifinishedwithmyanswer 🙂 ;-(. 

Remember there are a limited number of scholarships available and your students need to know that this is a competition. Best bet-remind your students to write their answers in a fashion that is readable and neat.  Avoid textese.


Applying for General Scholarships. Scholarship Essays – Sell, Sell, Sell.  November 16, 2015

As I have mentioned earlier, about 75% of a scholarship application score comes from the answers to the essay questions.  One point to remember is that each answer is reviewed by a member of our scoring committee.  I am told by our scorers that they want to be “sold” on an applicant.  One way to do this is by making sure an essay answer not only answers the question (very important) but at the same time shouts out to the scorer to “Pick Me!!”. 

Remember there are a limited number of scholarships available and your students need to know that this is a competition. Best bet-remind your students to not only answer the essay correctly, but also make sure they give the scorer a reason why they should select you over someone else. 


Want a 2016-2017 Scholarship? Learn about Lighthouse.  November 2, 2015

One of the new scholarship application changes for the 2016-2017 year will be the Lighthouse requirement.  Beginning next year, all scholarship applicants must have access to their GCSC Lighthouse account in order to apply for foundation scholarships.

Lighthouse is a GCSC online portal for student, financial and learning resources such as online registration, grades, degree evaluations, financial aid, and academic records.  All GCSC students will be asked to set up a Lighthouse Personal Identification Number (PIN) after they have applied and been accepted into GCSC.  Best bet-don’t wait. The gateway for foundation scholarship applications will be through a student’s Lighthouse account. For more information on Lighthouse visit www.gulfcoast.edu.


Applying for General Scholarships.  Does a grade point average (GPA) matter?  October 26, 2015

In all of our workshops and events, the Foundation staff emphasizes that the minimum grade point average (GPA) an applicant must have to apply for our general foundation scholarships is a 2.0.  We emphasize this point to let everyone know that our general scholarships are not just for “the smart kids”.  However, the down side to this point is that many people are lead to believe that when applying for scholarships having a high GPA really doesn’t matter.  Well it does.  The scholarship scoring committee awards quality points based on GPA ranges.  The higher the GPA of an applicant, the more quality points earned.  As much as 23% of an applicant’s score comes from his/her grade point average.  Best advice-keep those grade up!