GAPSA to limit travel grants

GAPSA has a $228,497.40 budget it uses for travel, academic and other grants.

Jenna Wilcox

Changes to the way the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly awards grants to students for professional travel will limit the number awarded for the same event.

In years past, GAPSA has run out of money in its professional travel grants budget because the funds were awarded to all eligible applicants earlier in the year. Students who had a conference in the fall would be at an advantage over students applying for a grant to travel over the summer.

The $200 grants are given to students who travel to conferences to present their research, for volunteer trips and for scholarly travel.

Students traveling to the same event will have to compete more with the other students applying because the change will cap the number of recipients to the top six.

 âÄúWeâÄôll get around 15 applications for one event and whatâÄôs been happening in years past is our budget for professional travel grants would run out,âÄù Vice President for Grants  Dana Meade  said.

The uncapped awarding of funds was a concern for former grants assistant Katie Larson,   one of the people who suggested the change last year. She said the cap was a âÄúnecessary change.âÄù

âÄúWe needed to diversify funds and make sure all the graduate and professional students were able to access it,âÄù Larson said.

The grants committee drained the fund by April last year because it wanted to finance as many people as possible, Meade said.

Former Vice President for Finance  Tyler Price  intervened in order to ensure that students traveling over the summer had access to funding.

âÄúIâÄôm not sure how he switched around the budget,âÄù Larson said. âÄúHe moved around the numbers and we were able to have a May cycle for students that were traveling over the summer.âÄù

The online application for professional travel grants is made up of three essay questions. Students are asked to explain their proposal, define professional development and describe how they will share their knowledge with other graduate and professional students.

Applications are evaluated out of 24 points, and students must usually score at least 12 points to qualify.

For applicants attending the same event or conference, only the top six highest scores will receive funds. The change will be effective for all applications turned in for the Nov. 3 grants cycle.

âÄúIt makes people take it a little more seriously and try a little bit harder with the application,âÄù Meade said.

The change will hit the larger colleges and schools the hardest. Some colleges put on big events that normally have around 20 or 30 people applying for grants. Now, that number will be reduced to only six.

Based on applications this year, Meade said the Law School and Medical School would be affected by the change.

However, Phillip Radke , GAPSA council president from the Medical School Student Council , isnâÄôt very concerned about the change.

âÄúLogically it has pros and cons,âÄù Radke said. âÄúBut people are pretty resourceful in finding ways of getting money.âÄù

Last year, the Medical School Student Council started setting money aside every semester for medical students to apply for.

âÄúWe knew that sometimes groups didnâÄôt get enough money so we figured we could have some extra money we would set aside every semester,âÄù he said.

On the other hand, Chad Larson  from the School of Dentistry said he feels that the change might not be worthwhile.

âÄúEveryone pays fees so it doesnâÄôt seem fair that some people would get grants and some wouldnâÄôt,âÄù he said.

While most of the issues have been surrounding the professional travel grants, GAPSAâÄôs $228,497.40  grants budget also provides: academic grants, social grants and scholarly travel grants.

Academic initiative grants are capped at $2,500 and social grants at $1,500. Scholarly travel grants top off at $165.

âÄúItâÄôs really difficult to gather money to go to conferences like that so itâÄôs one of our greatest resources we offer to students,âÄù Meade said.