Founder’s Scholarship is offering full tuition to three incoming freshmen

Waynesburg University is currently accepting applications for the Founder’s Scholarship, which covers the costs of tuition and fees to a maximum of three high-achieving incoming freshman students. 

The scholarship first launched in the fall of 2018 and was considered to be largely successful in its initial debut, with dozens of impressive high school seniors requesting to be considered for the honor, said Shari Payne, vice president for enrollment.

“It was such a good pool of students,” Payne said.

The establishment of the Founder’s Scholarship, said Payne, was in response to the reduced overall yield of top-achieving academic students to the university. Though the university does offer generous scholarships for its students, increased competition for the top-achieving high schoolers has resulted in lowered numbers of commitment to the university.

In order to obtain these students, more institutions are offering full-ride opportunities, and Waynesburg University established the Founder’s Scholarship to remain competitive in the college landscape for high-achieving academics.

“For the population at the top, not having these scholarships was a deal-breaker,” Payne said.

The results of the initial year of the scholarship were overwhelmingly positive, with an over 50% yield on the 14 students who moved to the final round of the selection process, sparking the drive to offer the scholarship opportunity once again.

The first three recipients of the Founder’s Scholarship are currently freshmen, and the opportunity is now once again open to high school seniors who are accepted to the university.

Qualifications to be considered for the scholarship also include a cumulative high school GPA of 3.5 or higher and a minimum score of 26 for the ACT exam, among others. More information about the minimum applicant qualifications is available on the university’s website. 

Hope Bidelman, freshman pre-dental major, was one of the three recipients from the incoming class of 2019 to be awarded the Founder’s Scholarship. 

Bidelman stood out among her fellow applicants in the consideration process, which included an essay and an in-person interview with a committee of university staff and faculty members.

The initial pool of 60 student essays was narrowed to just 14 top applicants who were then asked to schedule an interview with the committee.

“The committee was overwhelmed by the quality of the interviewees,” Payne said.

Bidelman was notified of the scholarship opportunity through an admissions counselor, but she was originally attracted to the university for Waynesburg’s small size.

“I really liked how small and personal everything was,” Bidelman said.

Though she was admittedly nervous for her interview, Bidelman held various leadership roles in high school and had excelled academically. For these qualifications and her commitment to contributing to the community on campus at the university, she was selected as one of the three scholarship recipients.

“I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I was so excited.”

Bidelman had already committed to the university prior to being announced as one of the winners of the scholarship, though she said it reaffirmed her college selection.

“It really made me think that I had made the right choice,” she said.

With the applications now open for next year’s Founder’s Scholarship, Payne said the current pool of students already seems promising.

For outstanding students like Bidelman, the Founder’s Scholarship can completely relieve the financial stress of higher education.

“It was such a big relief,” she said. “It’s definitely changed college for me because now I will not leave with a huge amount of debt.”