Help When you Need It: SPSCC Offers Scholarship Support


For many, if not most college students, funding their college education is a challenge. Navigating the world of financial aid, grants, student loans and scholarships isn’t always easy, but South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) offers a variety of resources to assist students with all aspects of the process.

According to Amy Ybarra, SPSCC’s Director of Financial Aid and Veterans Services, 20% of all SPSCC students receive some sort of need-based financial aid. Over $450,000 of that aid came from scholarships awarded by the SPSCC Foundation during the 2016-17 school year, in the form of scholarships ranging from $500 to $3500. “The Foundation does such a great job getting the information out there about scholarships,” says Ybarra.

SPSCC Scholarships
The SPSCC Writing Center offers 1-on-1 tutoring to help students with their scholarship essays. Photo credit: SPSCC Foundation

Ybarra’s office assists students with college funding in a variety of ways. In addition to working with students to help them complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Ybarra gives financial literacy talks, offering advice about budgeting for college and how to plan.

“We are trying to broaden how people think about scholarships,” she says. “Not all of them are need-based or academic – sometimes scholarships are available to those with a specific skill or talent.” Ybarra regularly refers students to the school’s financial aid website and to for information about scholarships that might be available to them. “We have a pretty robust page on our website, so students have the information they need to apply.”

Once students identify scholarships they may be eligible for, they begin the process of applying for them. Chris Dorn, SPSCC’s Learning Support Services Administrator, offers students a variety of options to seek help with scholarship applications. In the on-campus Writing Center, also known as LSS West, currently enrolled students may schedule free one-on-one appointments with a trained writing tutor for help with scholarship essays.

SPSCC Scholarships
SPSCC 2016 scholarship recipients and donors are honored at a reception in November 2016. Photo credit: SPSCC Foundation

This could be one visit or a multiple visits. A tutor can help draw out ideas to start developing a draft, help to tell their story in a coherent and compelling way, or simply help proof a final draft.

“Often, the conversations we have with students around their essays are some of our most meaningful interactions, revealing significant moments in their lives,” says Dorn. “It is an honor for the tutors to share in that storytelling and help them relay it in a meaningful way.”

Dorn trains the tutors so they have a good understanding of what scholarship application readers are looking for. Students interested in becoming a tutor can learn more about the process online. Dorn shares that the center is always seeking quality tutors and mentors for students who seek help.

Students can make tutoring appointments by email at, calling the writing center (360-596-5472) or visiting the Writing Center in person on campus in Building 22, Room 101.

During the 2016 spring quarter, between April and June, 300 students utilized writing tutors for 1,018 tutoring sessions. “We encourage the students to come early and come often. That way they have time to think about it and go through a few drafts before their applications are due,” says Dorn.

SPSCC Scholarships
Students can use the Writing Center on campus as a study space or to seek tutoring assistance. Photo credit: SPSCC Foundation

Ybarra further emphasizes how important the essay is to make an application stand out. “We promote the writing center extensively. They can help students write a great essay,” she says.

SPSCC Foundation staff are also on-hand to help students with their applications. With their deep knowledge of the scholarships available, they help trouble-shoot application questions from students, talk to SPSCC classes about the scholarship process and work with SPSCC staff and faculty to ensure all students are aware of the opportunities and have access to the many different scholarships available.

The Writing Center is also available for students to work on their essays independently or use it as a study space. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.

For more information about the SPSCC Foundation, call 360-596-5640 or email For financial aid information, contact the Financial Aid office at 360-596-5241 or email


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