UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS at WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY in ST. LOUIS

Understanding Scholarships & Student Financial Services

Prior to attending WashU, the cost was definitely a big decision factor for my family and me. Sometimes one’s attendance at WashU is a challenge simply due to the tuition and fees. But fear not, Washington University offers numerous financial resources for its students during their undergraduate studies. Finding these scholarships, however, may not be that easy, even though the process to apply is very straightforward. Consider this blog post a curt—not thorough—compilation of the types of scholarships available to applicants for the class of 2024.

For more clarification on scholarship opportunities, visit the following site: https://admissions.wustl.edu/Financial_Aid_Scholarships/Pages/Financial_Aid.aspx#scholarships  and contact counselors in the financial aid department. These advisors are always there to answer questions and serve the students of WashU. They will not be vexed because you are asking about money and resources available—that is a weird feeling that a lot of students tend to have about these advisors and that is simply not the case. On that note, I interviewed a financial aid counselor and acquired information that I considered would be helpful for applicants and their families.

Ms. Stewart-Douglas, Associate Director of Student & Family Engagement, was willing to sit with me to discuss some general questions about the Student Financial Services Department. To start, Ms. Stewart-Douglas clarifies that the department works primarily with Undergraduate students. Each school division has a set of financial aid officers, and each officer is assigned a cohort of students to serve for the entirety of their enrollment at WashU.

I ask the Associate Director whether or not a lot of students are hesitant to approach her or members of the department with questions about money or other financial resources.  The Associate Director believes some hesitance exists in the beginning. Yet, those very students unfamiliar with the financial aid process who approach the department with a shyness, “overtime build a confidence that enables them to advocate for themselves and often mentor other students.”

Having the same counselor during one’s undergraduate experience is vital, since talking about financial matters is very personal; “the counselors”, the associate director shares, “seek to build trust in this confidential space. There is no judgment here at all.” The counselors are here to listen and direct their attention to solutions no matter how complicated or simple a student’s circumstances may be. Some students even come to counselors for other matters, such as drafting budgets or seeking career guidance. Building these relationships with undergrads is how the department proactively eradicates fear and hesitation from its students.

The most important advice that she has for students who navigate the financial aid process alone or with families that may not be familiar with the process is to “communicate with your counselor”. The department is more than willing to offer and find solutions for students and families’ questions and situations. But the counselors and the department are unable to assess any issues without the voice of students or their families.

During her studies at the University of Missouri in Saint Louis, Ms. Stewart-Douglas didn’t experience the financial aid process much as a student. Nonetheless, she realized her “true calling” of working with college students while being employed at INROADS, a non-for-profit networking program focused on securing professional opportunities for undergraduates. Ms. Stewart-Douglas furthered that calling when she became a member and leader of WashU’s Financial Services Office. Her 7 years working at WashU has been a series of offering guidance to students and their families in-person and online. My interviewee holds a personal passion for the dynamics of recruiting and helping college students, and I sense this passion during the entirety of our conversation.

She informs me that Student Financial Services hosts financial literacy seminars for students and organizations, too. This is one way that the students engage more with funding and budgeting. She, herself, has spoken at an event for the student-run CS40 government, the QuestBridge Scholarship Program, and The Office of Student Success. Though SFS (Student Financial Services) mainly serves individuals and their families, SFS also counsels student leaders and organizations about financial literacy. In an effort to continue SFS’s presence and impact, an official website launch will occur on September 1st, 2019. This site will be intentional with its content of videos, tutorials, and continued webinars to guide its community of students and families.

*SFS has participated in webinars in the past to share information about the Pilot Grant Program and interpreting student account bills.

Student Financial Services continues to develop ways to engage with the WashU community and its families, and technology enables them to do so on a digital platform. Definitely look out for SFS online and reach out with questions. They are always available to assist.

At this point, you are surely interested in finding out what types of scholarships and grants are available. Thus, I have listed some with their respective links. Goodluck applying to whichever one(s) apply and interest you:

 

It is my sincerest hope that this blog post answers any general questions you have about financial support at WashU.

Until next time,

Have a beautiful day!