MTSU hopes to boost recruitment of incoming freshmen and transfer students with a recent change to scholarship eligibility requirements intended to help more students ease the burden of rising tuition.
MTSU’s Division of Student Affairs announced an adjustment, effective immediately, that scales back the minimum ACT scores required to qualify for five major scholarships guaranteed to eligible students, said Dr. Laurie Witherow, associate vice provost for admissions and enrollment services.
The university’s Transfer Academic Scholarships also will switch from being competitive-based to guaranteed for students from Tennessee’s 14 community colleges, Witherow said.
Students must apply by Feb. 15, 2015, and meet the minimum requirements of having 45 to 105 earned hours, a 3.0 GPA for community college transfers and 3.5 GPA for all others.
This change coincides with the 2015 launch of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise scholarship, which provides free tuition at community colleges for state residents as part of the state’s effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with college degrees or certifications.
To attract more incoming freshmen, the university is adjusting ACT requirements to offer scholarships to more high school students eligible to take University Honors College classes and who complete their MTSU application and meet the Dec. 1 priority deadline for applying, Witherow said.
Students applying after Dec. 1 risk missing out on the scholarship awards.
Major scholarships and their ACT adjustment include the Chancellor Scholarship (from 32 to 30 ACT), Presidential (from 29 to 28 ACT), Academic Service (from 27 to 26 ACT), Provost (from 26 to 25 ACT) and valedictorian/salutatorian (from 23 to 22 ACT). The required high school GPA remains 3.5. The guaranteed scholarship amounts range from $2,000 to $6,000 per year. For more, visit www.mtsu.edu/how-to-apply or www.mtsu.edu/financial-aid/scholarships.
Each of the scholarships requires students work 75 hours during the semester or five hours per week in a department affiliated with their major, Witherow said.
The plan allows MTSU to offer guaranteed scholarships to students with a 25 ACT score who qualify to take University Honors College classes, she added.
“We will be able to attract more Honors-eligible students, and younger students — those in middle school and early high school — will know where the bar is set, what GPA and ACT scores they will need to achieve to be eligible for these scholarships and likewise for these transfer students.”
Melinda Thomas, director of undergraduate recruitment in the Office of Admissions, said the change “definitely makes us more competitive against our peers. … Adjusting the ACT expands our reach.”
Kristen Chapman, one of eight high school recruiters on the admissions staff, said the change will make higher education more obtainable for high school seniors. Financial Aid Director Stephen White said the new ACT score of 25 for the Provost Scholarship will allow MTSU personnel to assist more students with a scholarship.
Wendi Pelfrey, assistant director of transfer recruitment, said it is going to be an exciting year for her and fellow community college recruiters Tyler Henson and Jeremy Mills.
“It’s exciting to have guaranteed transfer scholarships because it makes a huge difference for students, in helping them reach their goals,” Pelfrey said. “As an institution, it shows our commitment to transfer students. … These (transfer) scholarships are game-changers. We haven’t seen what it can do yet, but we’re expecting big things.”
Guaranteed scholarships for transfer students who meet eligibility requirements “will allow us to process scholarships for this group in a more timely manner and assist a greater number of students,” White said. “We anticipate that the outcome of the Tennessee Promise for students attending community colleges will generate a greater number of students transferring to MTSU with an associate degree beginning in fall 2017.”
The Buchanan Fellowship, MTSU’s highest award, is not included because it is a competitive, not a guaranteed, scholarship. Only 20 Buchanan scholarships, named for the late MTSU and Honors College benefactor James M. Buchanan, are awarded annually. It also has a Dec. 1 application deadline. For more, visit www.mtsu.edu/honors/buchanan.php.
To speak to an admissions representative, call 615-898-2111. For financial aid, call 615-898-2830.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)