AUBG Scholarship Distribution Insights
With the establishment of the America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF) in 2009, AUBG received $1 million funding for incoming Bulgarian students with exceptional skills and financial needs. After an additional $1 million was donated in 2010 by the foundation, in 2011, another $6 million were added to the ABF scholarship fund.
By 2013, about 50 percent of all Bulgarian students in AUBG received some scholarship from the organization. Although ABF has no role in selecting students, it had determined the type and number of scholarships. Based on academic achievements and financial opportunities, students can receive a 30 percent, 60 percent or a 100 percent subsidizing for their tuition fees. In rare cases a 100 percent plus scholarship covers the activity fees, meal plan, and residence fees in addition to tuition expenses. Because scholarships are given for all four years of education, students are expected to maintain a minimum CGPA, depending on the type of their scholarship. Starting from 3.0 CGPA for a 30% scholarship, the minimum goes up to 3.5 CGPA for 100 percent tuition coverage.
Although students receive a few GPA warnings before scholarship downsizing, Preslav Vachev, first-year student and scholarship recipient, expressed his concerns.
“GPA requirements can be counterproductive for first-year students,” he said.
On the other hand, Ana-Maria Tacheva, second-year student, has a different view on the matter.
“GPA standards are vital for building the right patterns of thinking and discipline from the beginning,” she said.
Since 2009, the scholarship committee, consisting of faculty and staff members, has seen rare cases of students not being able to keep up with grades. Borislav Tyulekov, representative of the committee, explained the detailed process of choosing recipients, which leaves little space for ill-prepared students to receive finance.
After a prospective student applies to AUBG, the admissions committee reviews the profile, conducts an interview and establishes a proposition for a scholarship. With the TOEFL score (or any equivalent exam) being the biggest factor, the high school diploma, an essay, a CV, and extracurricular activities are also taken into consideration. The proposals are then forwarded to the scholarship committee that reviews and votes on a final decision.
In Fall 2016, ABF offered 11 full scholarships, 20 covering 60 percent of tuition, and 44 covering 30 percent tuition to first-year students with high academic potential. USAID, the government agency that provides funding to ABF and similar organizations across South-Eastern Europe, organized an open discussion with ABF scholarship recipients on Feb. 23, in ABF Student Center.
“We are here to cover the impact that the investments have had in Bulgaria, as well as to gain some insights about replicating the same model in similar countries across the globe,” said Albena Godlove, the leader of the USAID research team.
Vladimir Todev, a third-year student on full scholarship, shared his personal experience.
“Don’t get us wrong, we wanted to study here. We just couldn’t afford it without the scholarships. I am thankful to ABF for giving me this opportunity,” he explained.
Other students also expressed their gratitude towards ABF for receiving an American education at an affordable price.
While scholarships for current students are fixed, future Bulgarian students might have fewer chances of attaining scholarships.
“We are working actively with your management to provide you the best possible support, however that’s still under discussion,” said Ivanka Tzankova, the Director of the Impact Assessment and Evaluation Department in ABF.
Despite the concerns, in 2015 ABF established a new scholarship fund, dedicated to Joseph Borgatti, the Director Emeritus of the Foundation and Chair of the Bulgarian-American Enterprise Fund. The Borgatti Scholarship will cover the full tuition cost for one or two Bulgarian students and will be given out for the first time in Fall 2017.
This article was prepared by Nadezhda Yankulska.