FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General

Where do I apply?

An application link will be available in October 2021 for the February 1, 2022 deadline. The May 1 application will be available in early Spring 2022.

Students will need to sign up for an account on our scholarship system “SmarterSelect” and it will automatically send email updates regarding  applications. If access to the internet or computer technology is a difficulty, please contact Shayna at 503-707-4238 or shayna@rscholars.org.

How does the committee select finalists?

Each eligible application is thoroughly reviewed and scored by multiple members of the Renaissance volunteer committee. Some items we pay particular attention to are:

  • Finances (EFC, annual household income, statement of need, number of people in household, etc.)
  • Academics (unweighted cumulative HS and college GPA, consistent/improved grades, class choices, etc.)
  • Essays (proofread, compelling content)
  • Letters of Recommendation (written by people who know the student well, not a family member or friend, positive sentiments, etc.)

Transcripts tell us a bit about the student, but we find out more from essays and recommendation letters. It is important for students to pick an essay topic that reflects who they are. We love when applicants are personable and honest. Successful candidates are able to clearly communicate their strengths and goals, both in their written application and in an interview setting.

How can the scholarship funds be used?

The Renaissance Scholarship is a renewable award of up to $4,000 per year, based on the scholar’s unmet need that school year. Awarded funds will not exceed $16,000 over four years. Should scholars go on to receive a full-ride scholarship or have less than $4,000 per year of unmet need, the Renaissance award could be reduced or rescinded. Funds will be divided equally over each term (excluding summer term) and will be disbursed at the beginning of the term.

The scholarship funds will be disbursed directly to the college from The Renaissance Foundation for direct costs. Use of scholarship funds for books or other indirect educational expenses will occur at the discretion of The Renaissance Foundation and is dependent on each individual university’s policies regarding external scholarships.

How does Renaissance determine "unmet need?"

The Renaissance Scholar Program determines unmet need by adding up all direct and indirect costs associated with school to find the scholar’s cost of attendance (COA). Each college provides an estimated COA to students every year. We then look at all scholarships and grants awarded to the scholar. The total sum of all scholarships/grants are then subtracted from the COA to find the unmet need. We do not consider scholars’ EFC, work study, or loans in this formula.

EXAMPLE:

Tuition and fees = $15,000

Housing and Meals = $10,000

Books and Supplies = $2,000

= $27,000 total cost of attendance

– $16,000 total scholarships and grants (Pell, SEOG, ILMAP, Oregon Opportunity, etc.)

=$11,000 unmet need as determined by the Renaissance Scholars Program

Scholars who have $4,000 or more in unmet need will receive the full $4,000 award for the academic year. Students with less than $4,000 will receive partial awards or may have their scholarship rescinded depending on the circumstances.

Are there requirements to keep my scholarship once I'm in college?

Yes. All scholars in college must:

  • Be enrolled full-time at a 4-year university
  • Maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA (Academic Action Plans are required for those who fall below temporarily)
  • Be in regular communication with RSP staff, sending financial information and transcripts each term as requested

If scholars do not meet any of these renewal requirements at any point in their college career, they are responsible for reaching out to Renaissance staff immediately to make a plan to get back on track.

Eligibility

Do I have to be from Illinois or Oregon to apply?

* This eligibility requirement has recently changed *

Applicants need to reside in Illinois or Oregon OR be planning to attend a 4-year college in Oregon or Illinois to be eligible.

Students who are not from Illinois or Oregon and do not plan to attend college in Illinois or Oregon are not eligible.

If you are unsure whether you qualify, please email shayna@rscholars.org before applying.

What does "first in family" mean? Why does Renaissance require applicants to be first in family?

* This eligibility requirement has recently changed *

The Renaissance Scholars Program seeks to assist the very first child in a family attend college because we know that they will be a powerful catalyst for future college-going in their families and communities. We encourage applicants who do not meet this definition to look at other scholarships offered. You can find some here.

RSP defines “first in family” as the very first person in your family to attend college. You are not eligible for the Renaissance Scholars Program if:

  • Either of your parents received a bachelor’s degree in the US
  • Any of your siblings are currently enrolled at a four-year college in the US
  • Any of your siblings received a bachelor’s degree in the US

We recognize that families come in many different forms. We consider siblings to be biological siblings, half-siblings, step-siblings, or adopted siblings who you grew up with and who are still involved in your life. If your sibling(s) does not meet that definition, there is space on the RSP application to share why you believe you should be considered first in family.

If you are unsure whether you qualify, please email shayna@rscholars.org before applying.

Are undocumented/DACA students eligible?

Yes. Undocumented students and students with DACA status are eligible and encouraged to apply.

Oregon-based students will need to fill out and submit a copy of the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA) to qualify.

Illinois-based students will need to fill out and submit a copy of the Alternative Application/RISE Act to qualify.

Please reach out to shayna@rscholars.org if you have questions or concerns about submitting financial documents.

Are non-traditional students (students returning to school) eligible?

Yes. Students who take time off between graduating high school and starting at 4-year institution may still apply for the Renaissance Scholars Program, as long as they meet all the other eligibility criteria.

Are international students eligible?

Yes. International students who reside in Oregon or Illinois or plan to attend a 4-year college in Oregon or Illinois are eligible. International students are welcome to apply for the Renaissance Scholars program, but must be planning on continuing their education at a 4-year, US institution.

Am I eligible if my parent(s) obtained a bachelor's degree outside of the US from a foreign university/college?

Students who have a parent that obtained a foreign degree are still eligible to apply. On the application, under the “Highest education received by parent” select the option “Obtained a bachelor’s degree outside of the US from a foreign university/college.”

How does Renaissance determine financial need?

We typically consider financial need as determined by the student’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) listed on their FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR). Students with an EFC of 6500 or higher are typically not considered eligible unless there are other circumstances to consider. Students can find their SAR by following these steps.

If a student is ineligible to file the FAFSA, they should submit an alternative financial aid application based on their state (see “Are undocumented/DACA students eligible?” above). If neither of these is an option, students should reach out to the RSP to learn more about the best way to submit family income information. 

If students have an EFC higher than 6500 but there are circumstances not represented on their financial aid report (ie.- family medical debt, job loss, etc.), they can submit a statement on the application explaining the circumstances.

If students have particular scenarios they wish to inquire about, please email shayna@rscholars.org.

Can I reapply for the May 1 deadline if I wasn't selected for the February 1 deadline?

We have two separate deadlines to allow more students to apply. We use the same grading materials for both deadlines so one deadline is not easier than the other. If a student submits for February 1 and is not selected, they could reapply for May 1, but we only recommend this option if there was some change to the application (new term grades, change in income, edited essays, new letters of rec, etc.). 

Students who apply for the February 1 deadline will know if they are selected by early April. If applicants want to know if they have been selected before college decision day on May 1,  we encourage them to apply by February 1. May 1 applicants will know if they have be selected by end of June/mid-July.

Application

Does Renaissance accept printed/mailed applications?

No. As of September 2019, our application is solely available through our online application. If you absolutely cannot submit an online application, please reach out to shayna@rscholars.org to ask about other options.

When does the application open?

The 2022 application will open in winter 2021.

What are the application components?

Please see The Renaissance Scholars Program page for application components.

Who should I ask to write my letter of recommendation?

There are two letters of recommendation required for our application. The first letter should come from an educational source. This is someone who can speak to your academic abilities and readiness for college coursework. You can ask a teacher, professor, counselor, principal. The second letter can be from any source. You want to ask someone who can write positive sentiments and can speak to your character and abilities to succeed. This letter can be from another teacher, counselor, coach, work supervisor, mentor. You should not ask a family member or a friend to write a letter.

If you are having trouble thinking of someone to ask, reach out to your guidance counselor and they can help you brainstorm potential recommenders.

How do I know if my recommenders have completed their letters?

In SmarterSelect, under the recommendation section, it lists the name of a chosen recommender and then a bit lower it says “Request sent: MM/DD/YY.” Right below that it says “Request received: ___.” If the recommender has not submitted yet, it will say “pending.” If it has been received, it will list the date and time received. Students will also receive an email to the email they signed up with once the recommenders have submitted their letters.

You should confirm that you have entered your recommenders email address correctly into the system or they will not receive the email request to submit your letter.

Where can I find a copy of my transcripts?

Transcripts do not need to be official and should hopefully not cost you money to acquire. You can request an electronic copy if your school provides this option. If your school doesn’t provide an electronic copy, transcripts should be scanned and saved onto your computer to be uploaded to your online application.

A helpful app you can download on your phone for scanning documents is called “Genius Scan.” It allows you to take photos of documents and then automatically turns them into a PDF. Then you can email to yourself or others to have on your computer for the application. We understand computer, scanning, and email access can be a challenge for students, so we are able to make accommodations for applicants who need assistance.

If you don’t have the required high school transcript:

  1. Contact your high school. If you graduated many years ago and they cannot provide a copy to you, ask them where you can obtain one.
  2. If unsuccessful, try the School District Administration Office if the high school was a public high school.

If you don’t have the required college transcript(s):

  • Contact the college or school you attended or log into your student portal to access online. If your records are on hold because you owe them money or some other reason, you will need to make arrangements with them to release your records.
  • If you attended an Oregon college that has closed, try to get the transcript from the Oregon Department of Education. The State of Oregon only maintains transcripts for colleges up to 25 years after the closure.

If the closed college was outside of Oregon, then contact the state agency overseeing the institution in the state the college was located.

Do I have to submit my high school transcript if I am a college student?

We do request all applicants to submit their high school transcript as it helps us look at your academic history. We know that not all students who do well in college excelled in high school, so we will be looking mostly to see if there has been improvement.
If you are unable to obtain your high school transcript, please contact shayna@rscholars.org for more information.

Where can I find a copy of my Student Aid Report (SAR) that lists my EFC?

Students can find a copy of their SAR by logging in to FAFSA.gov and selecting the “View or Print your Student Aid Report (SAR)” option near the middle of the “My FAFSA” page. The EFC is listed on the first page of the SAR.

I do not qualify for the FAFSA, what documents should I submit for the financial section?

If you filed an ORSAA or Alternative Application, upload a copy which lists your EFC. 

If you are not eligible to file an ORSAA or Alternative Application, upload a copy of your family’s most recent tax paperwork (tax form 1040 or similar).

If you are not eligible to file an ORSAA or Alternative Application and your family did not file taxes, please upload a Word document estimating your household income and explaining your financial circumstances.

How can I tell if a document has been uploaded to my application correctly?

On the application, look below the Select button. There is text that says “Uploaded file: name_of_your_file.pdf (1 MB)” If you see this then the document is attached. If you do not see your document name, it did not upload. The file could be too big or an invalid file type.

What happens after I submit my application?

Once you have inputted all the information and uploaded all the required documents, you will submit your application. However, your application is not really complete until your recommenders submit their letters online as well. Once your recommender has submitted their letter, you will receive an email to whichever email you used to set up your account. When both recommenders have submitted, you will receive a confirmation email letting you know that your application is officially complete and being considered for review.

Our scholarship selection committee members read and score the applications to determine which students will become finalists for the scholarship. Depending on total application scores, some finalists will be interviewed by the committee, while some may be selected as Renaissance Scholars without an interview. All applicants are informed of the final decision via email.

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Please reach out to our Senior Program Administrator, Shayna Beymer at shayna@rscholars.org with any questions!

Reach Us

The Renaissance Foundation

P O Box 80516 Portland, OR 97280

(+1) 503.726.5970

trfscholars@gmail.com

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