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District Scholarship takes new approach to college financing

Seniors are being reminded often during their English classes of the District Scholarship deadline on January 10. Photo by Zach Fink

Plagued with the responsibility of researching ways to pay for the thousands of dollars to attend college, most students resort to applying to numerous scholarships to help with that large sum of money. To help students with college tuition, the Nevada Joint Union High School District is the only school at the moment “in our region [that] has a district scholarship program.” Through this scholarship program, students were able to connect directly to 185 local scholarships. 

However, just this year, the process of handling these scholarships was altered onto a platform called GoingMerry, a website devoted to helping students find the financial help they need. Linda Melugin, the district’s scholarship coordinator, explained the district’s reasons behind making this change.

“Our end users are students like yourself, their families, and our donor community, so we really wanted to come in this year and look at what was going to make it easier for our end users,” she said. “So, [after] the old way of a paper application [with the] multiple different due dates and the tediousness to it, we decided to look at other school districts and other high schools in the area and what they did.”

Several seniors commented on how their experience through GoingMerry has fared so far.

“I think it might be better because it just makes it a lot more simple and easy to access everything through one site,” said Senior Thomas Triplett. “… I definitely like the improvements.”

“I think it’s way easier to access everything online,” Whitney Lybbert, a senior, said. “It’s really easy to just find stuff and organize what kind of scholarships you want to apply for … I can keep track of everything and where I’m at [in the process].” 

“I think it’s pretty nice to have it online,” said fellow Senior Grace Billingsley. “ … You can see all of your steps in one place. It’s also nice because you don’t have to go to different links to figure out which one requires the extra essay which ones need the letters of recommendation. You could get your letter of recommendation right on the spot, and keep track of deadlines a lot easier … It definitely seems like it’s less complicated than last year because there was a lot of paper that could get lost and a lot of steps that weren’t super clear. So it does make it a little bit easier.”

According to Mrs. Melugin, the school decided to make this switch for a variety of reasons. Besides the obvious of making the process more efficient for those using the program and making it less “unnecessarily hard,” she also explained another large reason for this change.

“The bigger thing on that is that the GoingMerry company, they work with national companies, so we will also be able to expose our students to national scholarships offered all over the world,” she said. “It automatically pairs our students with the scholarship that fits appropriately with them.”

Through this new connection, students would be able to find national scholarships easier. Billingsley described her opinion on this new function.

“I think it’s really nice, but I haven’t used it,” she said. “A lot of the scholarships that are really big scholarships, I already knew about or already applied for or decided I didn’t want to apply.”

As mentioned, there are 185 local scholarships all provided by businesses around our area. Some of these scholarships offer thousands upon thousands of dollars in order to aid students get to college in their community. Mrs. Melugin expressed the district’s appreciation for our community.

“Our district recognizes that and we are very fortunate in our community,” she said. “Our community gives and gives and gives and gives, and we often get compared to down-the-hill schools all the time.  … Our district scholarship program pulls in about $800,000. That’s a large amount of money and we want to make sure it’s being used appropriately. We want to make sure we are tapping into those students to make sure they’re getting resources that they need.”

With anything new, there are bound to be some issues that would be resolved in time. Billingsley elaborated on one that she has noticed.

“I don’t know if it’s a site issue, but for some reason not all the scholarships show up,” she said. “So when you go to local scholarships, it doesn’t list all of them. It does automatically tell you which ones you are ineligible for, but I wish it was easier to find all of them. I had to look some of them up by hand just because they don’t show up. The people who don’t know the names [of the scholarships beforehand] could miss those scholarship opportunities.”

Mrs. Melugin stated that despite a few issues that the district and students have come across, they are happy with the transition to GoingMerry.

“[With] what the endgame is and what the bigger picture is, they [the issues] are completely overshadowed, … but it’s been a learning process. It’s been great, because the end game is easier use for the end users.”

She continued to urge students to apply for scholarships.

“Everybody needs help, whether you use money to wipe up messes or you’re negative in funds and you don’t know how you’re going to create money for food the next day, she said. “ … Apply to our district scholarship, apply apply apply apply. I cannot say that enough … We just have a lot to offer, and we want to make sure we get that to the right students, to the students who are in need. You don’t ever have to be ashamed to ask for help, or ask for money, because that’s what we’re here for.”

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District Scholarship takes new approach to college financing