Originally published in The Oak Leaf, Santa Rosa Junior College’s Student Newspaper on Oct. 6, 2008.
The Exchange Bank’s stock market woes hit the SRJC community close to home when the college’s president, Dr. Robert Agrella announced the driving force for the Doyle scholarship program is suspending its quarterly stock dividends for the first time in 60 years.
The Exchange Bank – the Doyle’s meal ticket – reported Sept. 19 that it was suspending dividends to make up for bad construction loans.
Although the bank’s dividend suspensions may impact new awards, “scholarships accepted by students this year are not affected by this,” according to Agrella’s statement.
“There is an anticipated Doyle fund balance that will be available for 09-10 renewal awards for Doyle scholars returning to SRJC next academic year,” Agrella added.
College administrators are uncomfortable making any definite statements regarding the full impact of the dividend suspensions because the decision hasn’t been made yet.
“At this time, the anticipated fund balance is not sufficient to establish new awards for 09-10, however during the spring semester the SRJC Board of Trustees will make an actual determination of the number and amount of awards depending on the actual fund balance at that time,” Agrella wrote.
It’s unclear how the dividend suspensions will affect the college community. “We don’t have a crystal ball on stock dividends,” said Director of Student Financial Services Kristin Shear.
Students expecting to apply for the Doyle for the 2009-2010 academic year are disheartened about the scholarship’s current status and are planning to make do without if that becomes the case.
“If it comes down to it, I might have to take less classes, which could make it take longer to get my AA,” said Sullivan Bolger, a senior at Windsor High School.
“I would definitely choose my classes differently,” said SRJC student Merissa Rawson.
“I’ve been working full time since the beginning of summer, so I guess it would be coming out of my pocket and my parents would help with whatever I couldn’t come up with.” said SRJC student Christina Orme.
Shear wants students to know the sky isn’t falling and no definite decision has been made yet.
But even if the Doyle may not be available for students, there are plenty of alternatives. Shear advises students to apply for state and federal aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at http://www.fafsa. ed.gov starting Jan. 1.
There are computers between the financial aid and scholarship offices in Plover Hall just for that purpose.
“We have several student workers here who have gone through the process and can help students with applying,” Shear said.
Shear also encourages students to fill out the FAFSA even if they think they won’t be eligible for a grant because they may be eligible for a BOG fee waiver, which assists students with enrollment fees.
Besides financial aid, SRJC has one of the best community college scholarship programs in California, not counting the Doyle.
“Our foundation and business and community program in dollar value are still one of the 10 largest community college scholarship programs in the state,” Shear said. She advised students to drop by the scholarship office to see all the scholarships available.
Students should also keep their eyes open for the SRJC Foundation scholarship program from Jan. 5 to March 2. The SRJC Foundation offers hundreds of scholarships for continuing and transferring students.
“Students fill out one application and they’re put in a pool for a few hundred scholarships,” Shear said.
The Doyle’s fate will be unknown until the spring semester, so it’s a good opportunity to discover what other scholarship programs the JC offers, Shear said.
“If I try hard enough, I will find some to supplement my costs to go to school,” high school senior Bolger said.
Valerie Simson contributed to this report.