I lost a $1500 scholarship today.
I won a $1500 scholarship from the Daytona Beach College Foundation (of Daytona Beach, FL, USA) in the Fall of 2007. It is split into two semesters. There is a rule: “You can only receive one DBCC [sic, DBC used to be Daytona Beach Community College] Foundation Donor scholarship per semester.” Many of the scholarships are spread out over two or even three semesters. So, in my strategic cunning, I interpreted the rule in the manner that is most beneficial to me: you may only be awarded one scholarship per semester, but you may be profiting from the sacred funds of multiple donors in simultaneity.
I’m not one to ask questions. Ten times the yeses come from decisive action rather than cautious inquiry. I went ahead and entered for the scholarship. Surely if I interpreted that rule erroneously, I would receive no award, right? I finished my application online on 2007-10-25, with a glowing recommendation from Dr. Casey Blanton, my humanities professor in the QUANTA learning community, and author of Travel Writing: The Self and the World. No error messages or notifications of my ineligibility. It must be fine, right?
December 10 rolls around, and I receive this delightful news from the postman:
Congratulations! On behalf of Daytona Beach Community College, I am pleased to advise you that you have been awarded a $1,500 scholarship from the Elizabeth Barr Studio Arts Scholarship Fund. Your scholarship will be awarded over two semesters for the spring 2008 ($750) and fall 2008 ($750) semesters at DBCC [sic]. This scholarship is not transferable to any other semesters.
Compare this to the first award:
Congratulations! On behalf of Daytona Beach Community College, I am pleased to advise you that you have been awarded a $1,500 scholarship from the James Fentress Scholarship Fund. Your scholarship will be awarded over two semesters: fall 2007 ($750) and spring 2008 ($750) semester at DBCC [sic]. This scholarship is not transferable to any other semester.
Yes! I’ve pulled it off. There were plenty of measly $500 scholarships, but I’d won the big enchilada, twice in a row. Or so I thought.
January 14, the first day of classes. I take my letter of sincere thanks in to send off to the donors for the Elizabeth Barr award. I get the financial aid office mixed up with the bursar’s office, but the kind clerk offers to forward my letter on. You just don’t hear words the caliber of bursar nowadays.
It is on February 1st that I finally get the monies to fund the textbooks I am habitually buying as of late. Yet my beautiful Elizabeth Barr award, which I’ve bragged about to dozens of friends and strangers alike, is ominously absent. Where could it be, I ponder?
As any good coper, I reason that it is just taking longer than normal. “The money will come, soon. There are just processing delays. The gears of the bureaucracy are not well-oiled today.” On February 4, I finally crack and call in.
Charlene Solomon, head of the DBC scholarship foundation, gives me the dreadful news herself: I will not be receiving my capstone prize. It is all a mistake. Up to this point, I am so convinced of the infallibility of the scholarship department, that the word mistake is no more than an Egyptian hieroglyph to me.
The mistake is, that I am receiving the second half of the $1500 James Fentress scholarship this semester, so the rule, “You can only receive one DBCC [sic] Foundation Donor scholarship per semester,” cripples my entire application, as I shuddered to suspect. Because of the $750 I am receiving from the James Fentress scholarship this semester, I lose all the $1500 of the Elizabeth Barr award.
But it gets worse: my precious money was awarded to another student.
Perhaps this would be enough to console a charitable person. But not me. Because I’m just so much better at putting coinage to use, it should obviously be mine, no?
The epic continues: my file indicates that I was attempted to be called several times to be informed of the dreadful thing. Yet I received no such calls. I have devised an ingenious theorem that the messenger chickened out, but marked me as called. I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell a student that his wonderful scholarship, the culmination of years of academic toils, has been rescinded.
It’s not like this is going to ruin my education. Everything is already paid for by our state’s excellent BrightFutures reward program (which I got $75 less of this year), the Pell grant, and the icing on the cake is my previous $1500 scholarship. Suffice to say, there are students much more deserving of the award (if not for academic merit, for financial neediness). I would’ve just saved this $1500 for my postgraduate education, slated for 2011. I’d love to boast that I’m the first person to ever win two consecutive scholarships like this, and that this is the first time the rule has been enforced. But honestly, I have no idea.
Please do not misconstrue this as bashing of the DBC foundation. I know it’s hard to manage so many students and applications, and mistakes happen. But do they have to happen to me, and of such an irritating sort? I’d certainly prefer it that the award was legitimate, yet forgotten to be sent, so long as I’d never found out about it.
$1500 may be a small amount to you, but my family is lower-class so it would’ve greatly helped us. Who’d have thunk it in 1969 that Americans would be paying upwards of a dollar a bottle for water? And how do we profess to respect mother nature when we pile our landfills with such wasteful containers?
I encourage the administration to update their rules. Replace:
You can only receive one DBCC [sic] Foundation Donor scholarship per semester.
You can only receive one DBC Foundation Donor scholarship per semester. If you are receiving a scholarship spread over multiple semesters, you may not apply again until that scholarship has concluded.
And on the scholarships page, replace:
Students may apply for as many scholarships as they are eligible, however, students may only receive one DBC Foundation scholarship per semester.
Students may apply for as many scholarships as they are eligible, however, students may only receive one DBC Foundation scholarship per semester. If you are receiving a scholarship spread over multiple semesters, you may not apply again until payment of that scholarship has concluded.
The current rules are too vague, if the staffers themselves misread them. Don’t let someone else go through the same disheartening rigmarole. If it takes away the faith of one student in our university, then it has hurt my community as a whole.
Scratch the opening. It should be “I lost nothing today,” because I never actually had anything.
2008-02-05 Update: I corrected grammar, clarified parts, elaborated on the proposed rule changes, and revised an overly negative paragraph.
2008-02-10 Update: Read A Postscript on the Scholarship.