Presidential Leadership Awards replace smaller merit-based scholarships

Wheaton College will replace some of its automatic merit-based scholarships in fall 2017 with new, larger scholarships offered to a select group of students based on holistic criteria that now include essays.
The college will keep its $5,000 automatic merit-based scholarship, which was formerly called the Charles Blanchard Award and is now renamed The Arthur Holmes Faith and Learning Scholarship. However, it will discontinue its second-tier $2,500 automatic scholarship and National Merit scholarship. The National Merit award previously supplemented the official National Merit Scholarship Program’s award to bring the amount to $5,000, but will no longer do so. Students currently receiving these awards will not be affected by these changes.
The college will rearrange the money from the discontinued scholarships to fund three new Presidential Leadership Awards: the Blanchard Leadership Award, the Edman Leadership Award and the Armerding Leadership Award. The largest new scholarship offered by Wheaton College, the Blanchard Leadership Award, will be awarded to two students for $20,000 per year. The Edman Leadership Award will be given to 14 students for $10,000 per year and the Armerding Leadership Award will be awarded to 41 students for $5,000 per year. The total amount of funding allocated to scholarships will not change.
Previously, merit-based scholarships were based solely on GPA and standardized test scores and did not require essays. Sophomore Kate Panizza said that she “wished that the application process included essays” when she applied, because an essay might have offered her a better opportunity to be awarded a scholarship than a set GPA and standardized test score requirement.
Wheaton College desired to expand the scholarship criteria past the GPA and standardized test score requirements in order to have a broader scope in scholarship consideration and to not dissuade students from applying to Wheaton College on that basis. Director of financial aid Karen Belling emphasized that the Admissions Office looks at a “holistic view of a student,” and said they recognized that this should be reflected in the application process for scholarships.
In fall 2015, the admissions office proposed an alteration to scholarship offerings in light of two priorities: adapting to multiple changes to the FAFSA and increasing the number of applicants to align with Wheaton’s goals.
The office drafted an initial proposal in January 2016, which was reviewed for approval by the Enrollment, Tuition and Financial Aid Committee and the Senior Administrative Cabinet. In May 2016, the Trustees were made aware of the change in the scholarships.
The Presidential Leadership Awards align “the strategic priorities of Wheaton College” to bring in students with a passion for global engagement, kingdom impact, Christian worldview and American multicultural engagement. The admissions office hopes that through essays, applicants for these scholarships will be able to better communicate their passions. The essays will be reviewed by a committee of faculty and the admissions office.
Since the Enrollment, Tuition and Financial Aid Committee reviews the scholarship process every year, new scholarships could be introduced in the near future. However, current recipients of Wheaton College scholarships will continue to receive the same scholarships they were awarded when they were incoming students.

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