Community Foundation of Western MassachusettsCommunity Foundation of Western Massachusetts
Make a GiftAdvisor CenterDonor ServicesNonprofitsScholarshipsAbout Us

FAQs

· How do I apply for scholarships and loans?

· Common problems with applying

· What is a FAFSA and where do I go to complete it?

· What is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?

· How do I obtain my SAR after completing the FAFSA?

· How do I obtain my Student Aid Report (SAR)?

· TIPS for obtaining and processing your SAR

· Who is eligible for scholarships and loans?

· Are part-time students eligible?

· Are scholarships and loans open to graduate students?

· Must a student attend a college or university in Massachusetts?

· What expenses can scholarships cover?

· How are recipients selected?

· Can students send a photocopy of their academic transcripts?

· What if household income is relatively high?

· When are decisions made?

· Can students reapply each year?

· Why is the personal statement required?

· How are awards paid?

· What if a student withdraws or attends only one semester in an academic year?

· Will a Community Foundation award affect a student's financial aid package?

· What is the maximum award that a recipient can receive?

· Are paper applications available?

· What if I do not have Internet access or a computer at home? .

How do I apply for scholarships and loans?

Students must complete the Community Foundation’s online application which is available beginning January 1 through March 31 of each year. Upon electronic submission, students must also submit their official transcript and a copy of their Student Aid Report (SAR). Graduating high school seniors can obtain a transcript through their high school guidance offices. It is strongly recommended that these documents be uploaded at the time of submitting the application.

Students who are already attending college should submit a copy of their official transcript with their most up to date semester grades as well as a SAR. An official transcript can be requested through the college’s Registrar’s Office. It is strongly recommended that these documents be uploaded at the time of submitting the application.

Common problems with applying

  •  Students do not send in their high school/college transcript AND their SAR on or before March 31
  •  Students do not apply on or before March 31

What is a FAFSA and where do I go to complete it?

FAFSA stands for Free Application For Student Aid. It is the first step in determining a student’s eligibility for federal, state and sometimes college financial assistance. There is no charge to complete this document. Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to begin the process.

What is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a document that gives some basic information about a student’s eligibility for federal student aid and lists student’s responses to some questions answered on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAR is several pages long. Click here to see an example SAR(http://delmarscholarships.org/forms/Sample_Student_Aid_Report_(SAR).pdf) . You should make a PDF of this report and upload it to your application. Do not send just the confirmation page.

Give the document the title SAR and include your last name. Example: SARSmith.

How do I obtain my Student Aid Report (SAR) after completing the FAFSA process?

  • Popup Blocker in your browser needs to be turned off
  • Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov (this is a free service)
  • Select the Login button
  • Enter the student's name, social security number, and date of birth
  • In the 2016-2017 Tab, select the View Processed Information button
  • Enter the student's PIN and select Next
  • A PDF document entitled Federal Student Aid FAFSA will open on the screen.
  • Save it to your hard drive and upload it to your application. If you have trouble uploading the document you can email it to scholar@communityfoundation.org noting the student's name in the subject line or mail it to:

    Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts:
    Mail: 1500 Main Street, P.O. Box 15769, Springfield, MA 01115

    Email: scholar@communityfoundation.org

TIPS for Obtaining and Processing Your SAR:

  • Make sure you follow the instructions regarding obtaining your parents signature as instructed on the website.
  • If you provide an e-mail address on the FAFSA, you should receive a confirmation in approximately a week that your SAR is available. Follow the link provided to receive your SAR.
  • If you don’t provide an e-mail address, the SAR will be mailed to you in approximately  four weeks.
  • If you have trouble obtaining an SAR, contact your college financial aid office or call the Federal Department of Education at 1.800.433.3243 for assistance.
  • File as early as possible and keep copies of all forms submitted.

Who is eligible for scholarships and loans?
Unless otherwise noted in the scholarship or loan description, awards are limited to residents of the three counties in the Pioneer Valley (Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin). Interest-free Colgan Loans are awarded to residents of Massachusetts who have resided in the state for a minimum of five years.

Are part-time students eligible?
Full-time and part-time students pursuing higher education may apply for scholarships. Eligibility for the Colgan loan requires a student to be full-time.

Are scholarships and loans open to graduate students?
Both undergraduate and graduate students may apply for most scholarships and loans except where noted in the scholarship or loan description.

Must a student attend a college or university in Massachusetts?
No. Scholarships and loans are awarded to eligible students enrolled in colleges and universities throughout the United States, unless otherwise stated in the scholarship or loan criteria.

What expenses can scholarships cover?
Scholarships are made payable directly to the school, college, or university on behalf of the student. Scholarships may be used to offset tuition, fees, room and board, and some other items the school, college or university determines are part of the cost for attending their institution. Please note: Scholarships are payable for tuition only at for-profit schools. For students enrolled in less than six credits, scholarships are payable for tuition and fees only.

How are recipients selected?
Most recipients of scholarships and loans are selected based on their financial need and academic merit. However, some scholarships and loans require applicants meet other criteria such as ethnicity, religion, certain parental employment, etc. For this reason, applicants are strongly encouraged to complete all data, required and optional, on the application.

Can students send a photocopy of their academic transcripts?
After obtaining an official transcript from either the high school guidance office or college Registrar’s Office, a student may make a copy of the official transcript and upload, email or send their transcript to the Community Foundation via postal mail. It must be evident that the transcript is a copy from an original as it will reveal markings to indicate such upon making the copy. No unofficial copies will be accepted.

Email: scholar@ community foundation.org

NOTE: Student’s name must appear in the subject line as follows: Transcript: Tom Jones

Mail: Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts

1500 Main Street

P.O. Box 15769

Springfield, MA 01115

What if my household income is relatively high?

Since several scholarships consider other criteria besides financial need, all students who meet eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply.

When are decisions made?
Generally, decisions on both scholarships and loans are made by the end of May and applicants are notified by the end of June.

Can students reapply each year?
Yes, students can reapply and must complete the application each year to be considered for scholarships and loans awarded in that given year. Receipt of an award for one academic year does not guarantee that an award will be granted in a subsequent year; conversely, students that are denied an award should not be discouraged from reapplying another year.

Why is the personal statement required?
The personal statement is required of all applicants because it provides the volunteers reviewing your application with some insight into your personality and character and helps them to know you a little better.

How are awards paid?
Scholarship award checks are paid directly to the institution that a student is attending once a student’senrollment has been verified.  For students attending four-year colleges, payment of up to $4,100 is paid in the fall semester and any remaining funds are paid in the spring semester. For students attending two-year schools, payment of up to $2,100 is paid in the fall semester and any remaining funds are paid in the spring semester.

Loan recipients receive a loan note outlining terms and a repayment schedule through postal mail. Once the loan note is returned to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, a check is processed and sent directly to the student.

What if a student withdraws or attends only one semester in an academic year?
This situation will be addressed on a case by case basis.

Will a Community Foundation scholarship affect a student's financial aid package?
Institutions/Colleges/Universities may adjust financial aid packages to reflect scholarships other than those granted by the college. Usually a college or university will first use an outside scholarship to replace unmet need, or reduce the amount of loans or work study before adjusting grants or scholarships. However, policies vary and students should check with their institutions’ financial aid office.

What is the maximum amount of scholarships and loans a student can receive from the Community Foundation of Western MA?
Students attending a four year school can receive up to $8,000 in any one award year. Community college students can receive up to $4,000 in any one award year.

Are paper applications available?
At this time the Community Foundation accepts only online applications.

What if I do not have Internet access or a computer at home to submit the online application?
We recommend you contact your local library, community center, employment agency or senior center to determine if you are eligible to use the free or minimal cost public use computer terminals. If you are unable to access a computer with internet service please contact us at scholar@communityfoundation.org or at (413) 732-2858 at least one week prior to the scholarship deadline.