The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

SGA and petition push scholarship policy change

3 min read
A screenshot of the petition.

Connolly’s petition for students to keep their scholarships is located on |


Staff Writer

On April 4, senior political science major Kevin Connolly created a petition in protest of UMW’s policy stipulating that students must live on campus to keep certain scholarships. At time of publication, the petition has 268 signatures.

“I moved off-campus because of a mold allergy and my scholarship was instantly cut in half,” said Connolly. “My story is not unique, dozens of students I have spoken to have each lost thousands of dollars.”

Junior political science major and Student Government Association President Joey Zeldin explained that each scholarship has a different policy regarding housing. 

“Some scholarships are strictly merit-based awards, meaning that you receive them on the basis of your grades and merit, while others are given to students on the basis that they’ll live on campus,” he said. 

The housing requirements for each scholarship are located on the Scholar Manager website. 

“I have always thought the policy was unfair—why should students be forced to remain on campus?” he said. “What effect does that have on their academic merit? It felt like something needed to change, and I wanted to at least begin the conversation before my time at UMW came to a close.”

The Student Government Association has brought these student concerns to administration.

“We advised President Paino that many students move off-campus because of financial issues and/or making college cheaper,” said Zeldin. “We also mentioned that by allowing scholarships to be 100% merit-based and not sometimes based on housing, it would attract more students to the University who may not want to live on-campus all four years as well as boost retention rates.”

Zeldin continued, “Freshmen are required to live on campus for their first two years on-campus, so we sometimes see students move off-campus after their first two years, only to realize that their financial aid dipped because they had some on-campus scholarships within their financial aid package that were supporting them due to their housing status,” said Zeldin. 

Senior communication and digital studies major Erin Matuczinski spoke about her experience as a Presidential Award recipient. 

“Right after acceptance, I felt that the university’s policy was very off-putting,” she said. “Even though I was receiving the highest merit scholarship possible, it still was not covering the entirety of room and board. It has made me feel like the University is making sure that they will always get money out of a student.”

Even though she would lose the award, she chose to move off campus.

“I quickly moved off campus, despite the threat of losing my scholarship,” she said. “The fact that I could literally save money while still losing my thousands of dollars in merit scholarship shows how completely bogus the policy is.”

Zeldin says that the University has begun work to resolve the issue.

“President Paino informed us that there is already a committee within the UMW administration that is looking at scholarship policies to address the student concerns on housing-locked scholarships,” said Zeldin. 

Matuczinski feels that there is room for improvement.

“UMW definitely needs better merit based scholarships,” she said. “There are so many exceptional students here that are not getting the recognition they deserve. … As an institution of higher education, it seems utterly obvious that the university should be awarding students who achieve consistent academic success.”

Zeldin explained how he and other Student Government Association officers are working to help the university better understand the student body. 

“At this moment, we as SGA have already talked with President Paino and his staff about this issue, so progress is already starting to happen!” said Zeldin. “We were overjoyed that students relied on us to voice this issue to Paino, as that is the primary purpose of SGA.”
Connolly said that he hopes “the University looks at the activism that is taking place by many of its students, and engages in a positive conversation that could change their policy moving forward.”