DigiPen students have a new resource at their disposal when it comes to answering the age-old question: How can I pay for my college education? That resource is an online database known as Scholarship Universe, which quickly and easily matches students with a wide range of both internal and external scholarship opportunities from charitable groups and organizations around the country.
All DigiPen students — including those recently accepted to a DigiPen degree program — have access to Scholarship Universe. Using the platform simply requires students to log in with their DigiPen credentials and provide some background information in order to get started.
“They’re asked some really basic questions, and after answering those questions, Scholarship Universe takes all of those answers, puts it into their databases, and basically spits out a whole bunch of institutional and outside scholarships that the student is eligible to apply for,” Barbara Hammer, associate director of Financial Aid at DigiPen, says. “All they have to do is click on anything that seems interesting to them, or everything that they’re eligible for, and it automatically directs them to the website where they need to go and fill out an application.”
When it comes to financial aid, scholarships are among the best forms of assistance available, simply because they are monetary gifts that — unlike loans — do not need to be repaid. Each year, DigiPen offers a robust lineup of institutional scholarships based on need, merit, and other criteria. And while the amount of scholarships beyond DigiPen is far greater in comparison, finding and applying for those opportunities can require a bit of extra work.
“They probably don’t get taken advantage of because of the amount of time that it takes — even just looking for scholarships that you’re eligible for,” Hammer says. “Our students, especially first-year and second-year students, are super busy just with being at college for the first time and navigating financial aid in general. They aren’t really thinking about, ‘Oh, I should designate an hour every day to look for outside scholarships too.’ So this is a tool that will really help them in even just locating those scholarships.”
According to Hammer, the Scholarship Universe database includes more than 13,000 outside scholarships, all of which are pre-vetted.
“It’s not exhaustive by any means, and it will never be, but it’s a really great starting point for students,” Hammer says.
In recent years, DigiPen students have earned prestigious scholarships from various organizations, such as the Entertainment Software Association and McMillen Foundation, to pursue their dream careers in games and digital media. Still, Hammer says, it’s important not to overlook local scholarship providers, including churches, businesses, and community groups like the Rotary club. While the awards may be smaller in comparison to those from other sources, a student’s chances of receiving an award may be higher due to smaller applicant pools. Plus, it all adds up in the end.
“We still have all of the tips on our website for finding outside scholarships, and I highly recommend that all students still use that,” Hammer says. “So, yes, still search for additional outside scholarships, but use Scholarship Universe as a springboard to start that search.”
In addition to matching students with outside scholarships, Scholarship Universe also now serves as the online platform for applying to all DigiPen institutional scholarships.
If you find yourself relying on outside help to pay for your DigiPen education, you’re not alone. Last year, roughly 87 percent of students at DigiPen received financial assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans.