Bellevue University Named 2017 Scholarship Provider of the Year
By Cris Hay-Merchant, Director of Strategic Communications
When Johnna Hargens-Brown headed to the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) Annual Conference in Seattle in mid October, little did she know that she’d be coming home with an unexpected souvenir.
Instead of a Space Needle refrigerator magnet, though, Hargens-Brown returned with a much more valuable piece of hardware – an award honoring Bellevue University as the 2017 Scholarship Provider of the Year in the colleges and universities category. “I was beyond surprised when they announced my name and our institution,” she said. “I even had to give thank you remarks and I had no idea what to say because I truly did not know we’d get selected.” NSPA Scholarship Provider of the Year award winners are chosen by a committee of their peers and exemplify innovative and effective scholarship practices that impact the ability of students to access and be successful in higher education. The organization has a national membership of more than 400-plus public and private colleges, universities, foundations and businesses that administer scholarships.
Although the award announcement caught her off guard at the conference, Hargens-Brown believes, strongly, that Bellevue University was the right choice. “Our application highlighted the work of Bellevue University as a whole, and it specifically pertained to the ways we support our students through scholarships,” she said. Some of the highlights of Bellevue University’s application included the University’s three-year cohort default rate of 7.3 percent (in 2014), which is far below the national average of 11.5 percent, and how the Scholarships & Grants team supports that by helping students maximize funding options versus taking on significant student loan debt.
“Our application also highlighted the incredible support services we provide to students,” noted Hargens-Brown. After enrollment, every Bellevue University Student is assigned an Academic Student Coach and a Student Financial Counselor. Plus, students who receive renewable scholarship and financial support are required to participate in Bellevue University’s Personal Enrichment Program (PEP). PEP is a four-year, non-credit series of workshops that help students acquire the “Power Skills” they need to succeed in college and in life.
Hargens-Brown expressed thanks to the members of her Scholarships & Grants department, as well as others across the University, and specifically, to Bellevue University’s generous donors. “We’re proud to say we’ve increased the number of donors, “ she said, “as well the number of scholarship and grant dollars significantly the last six years. We simply could not help so many students without them.” An example that was highlighted in the University’s winning NSPA application was the American Dream scholarship fund, which includes donor-funded scholarships that have been used to support nearly 500 students in the last several years.
In addition to the award, Bellevue University received a $2,500 cash prize sponsored by Fast Web. Hargens-Brown plans to use it to do what she’s most passionate about – help even more Bellevue University students achieve their educational dreams.