FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


GENERAL INFORMATION

Q. What is the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship?

A. Students receiving the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship work year-round at Berry in exchange for significant financial support from the college and a donor. They are selected through a competitive application and interview process. “Gate Scholars” work part-time during fall and spring semesters and full-time during most of the summer and winter breaks. The scholarship greatly reduces their cost of attending Berry, while also investing in the students’ personal development through academics, work experience, professional development and donor stewardship. 

Q. How is the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship funded?

A. The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship is funded through a three-way partnership between: 1) the student and family, 2) Berry College, and 3) a donor. The award greatly reduces the cost of attending Berry College and minimizes the need for student loans.

Q. Is Gate of Opportunity a “full-ride” scholarship?

A. The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship greatly reduces the cost of attending Berry College, however it is not a full ride. Gate Scholars and their families have financial commitments each year – the family pays a portion of the cost, the student contributes a percentage of their work earnings and the family is also responsible for personal expenses throughout the year. The student and family may also be responsible for additional expenses associated with student’s choices, like upperclassman housing, additional course fees, fines or extra expenses associated with internships or study abroad, etc.

THE WORK COMMITMENT FOR GATE SCHOLARS

Q. How much do Gate Scholars work?

A. Gate Scholars have annual work expectations, as follows:

                Freshman Year:                1,050 hours

                Sophomore Year:             1,200 hours

                Junior Year:                        1,250 hours

                Senior Year:                        1,000 hours

The Gate Scholars Program follows the college’s fiscal year, with each year beginning in early July and ending in late June.

To accomplish their annual work hours, Gate Scholars are expected to work at a part-time rate (16 hours per week for freshmen and 20 hours per week for sophomores, juniors and seniors) during the academic weeks of fall and spring semesters. All Gate Scholars also work at a full-time rate (40 hours per week) during most of the rest of the year (summer and winter breaks).

Importantly, Gate Scholars do have time off at college holidays and during the two semester breaks, plus they have vacation time to use each year.

Q. Are the Gate Scholars the only Berry students who work?

A. All undergraduate Berry students are guaranteed a job through Berry’s Premier Work Experience Program, and more than 95% of Berry students take advantage of this. Most Berry students are balancing academics alongside part-time work and other involvements. So Gate Scholars are definitely not the only ones who work!

Q. How is job placement determined for freshman Gate Scholars?

A. Freshman Gate Scholars are placed in their first work assignments based on what we learn about them through the selection process, their areas of interest and – importantly – the available campus jobs for incoming freshmen. We ask them to be committed to their first work assignment for the first year, and then they may begin exploring other jobs of interest to them – they are “free agents” after the freshman year. While some will change jobs or add a second position, many Gate Scholars stay with their first jobs all four years.

APPLICATION, SELECTION AND ORIENTATION PROCESS

Q. How do I apply for Gate of Opportunity as an incoming freshman? What steps do I take?

A. The first step is being admitted to Berry College by the college’s February 1 priority deadline. Learn more about the application process with the Office of Admissions. Once admitted, students apply for Gate of Opportunity by submitting the competitive scholarships application online at their Viking Web accounts – be sure to select “Gate of Opportunity” when submitting the application. They will also need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as Gate of Opportunity is a need-based scholarship. Both the scholarship application and FAFSA should be submitted by the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship deadline (see timeline below).

Q. How does the selection process work?

A. Scholarship applications are read by a selection committee, FAFSA results are considered for financial eligibility, and then the top, financially-eligible candidates are invited to campus for a day-long interview process. Final selection decisions are made after the interview process.

Q. How many students typically apply for Gate of Opportunity and how many get selected?

A. In recent years, 250-300 students have applied for Gate of Opportunity Scholarship consideration. We typically select 10 students to receive the scholarship as incoming freshmen.

Q. Is the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship open to all majors?

A. Currently, the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship is open to all undergraduate majors offered at Berry College. Some majors, such as Teacher Education and Nursing, will require strong time management and significant dedication on the part of the student. The Gate Scholars Program administrators, college faculty and work supervisors partner closely with Gate Scholars to help them meet their academic goals alongside the expectations of being a Gate of Opportunity Scholar.

Q. When are interviews held?

A. The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship Program hosts two interview dates each spring and selected candidates pick one date to attend. “Gate Interview Days” are held on Saturdays, typically two different Saturdays in March, and they run from morning to mid-afternoon. Selection activities take place throughout the day and candidates are asked to fully participate in the Gate Interview Day they choose to attend (we cannot accommodate late arrivals/early departures). See timeline below.

Q. What happens at Gate Interview Day?

A. During Gate Interview Day, candidates interact with a variety of Berry faculty and staff, program administrators and current Gate Scholars. They participate in an individual interview, they learn more about the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship Program, they interact with the program administrators and they also have the opportunity to have lunch with current Gate Scholars and friends of the program.

Q. How should I dress for Gate Interview Day, if I’m invited?

A. While our selection decisions will not be based on attire, we encourage candidates to dress appropriately for an interview. Most students wear dress slacks/skirt with a collared shirt/blouse or a dress. There will be some walking during Gate Interview Day, so comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate attire are recommended.

Q. Can anyone come with me to Gate Interview Day? What will they do during the day?

A. Most students bring a parent or other support person with them to Gate Interview Day. They are able to attend an information session about the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship, plus we offer them lunch in our student center and an optional tour of Berry’s Main Campus. 

Q. If I attend Gate Interview Day, will I be notified if I’m selected or not? How will I find out?

A. All interview candidates will be notified in writing of whether or not they’re selected for the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship. Decisions are typically announced in early April.

Q. What if I’m invited to interview, but I cannot attend either of the Gate Interview Days?

A. We strongly encourage candidates to make every effort to attend a Gate Interview Day. Being a Gate of Opportunity Scholar is a significant commitment, and Gate Interview Day is designed to help us get to know you and also help you get to know Berry and the scholarship program. It is in your best interest to attend one of the Gate Interview Days if at all possible. For significant circumstances, we reserve the right to grant an alternate interview option. If you are invited to interview and you have a significant conflict with both interview dates, please contact the Gate Scholars Program to discuss the possibility of an alternate interview option. The nature of your conflict will be considered by our selection committee. If granted an alternate interview option, you will receive full consideration for the scholarship.

Q. If I’m offered the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship how long will I have to make a decision?

A. If offered the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship you will have until May 1 to accept or decline the scholarship offer. You will need to accept by returning a signed acceptance agreement and paying the $250 housing and enrollment deposit with Berry.

Q. When do new Gate Scholars move-in to Berry College?

A. All new Gate Scholars move in at Berry College by late June or early July. The specific date is announced each year as part of the selection process. Due to the nature of the scholarship commitment and the orientation process, we are not able to make exceptions to the move-in date. Students who accept the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship will need to make arrangements to move-in on their assigned move-in date. See the timeline below for dates specific for the 2015-16 selection process.

Q. Is there an orientation process for new Gate Scholars?

A. Yes! New Gate Scholars participate in “Gate Orientation” during the first couple days they are here. We will share important information about being a Gate Scholar, balancing academics, work and other commitments, and living at Berry year-round. Gate Orientation is also a time to get to know your fellow Gate Scholars and get plugged into our community of support. Gate Orientation is required for all new Gate of Opportunity Scholars.

Q. Do freshman Gate Scholars participate in Berry’s orientation process for new freshmen?

A. Yes! All freshman Gate Scholars attend a Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) session in June (before moving in at Berry), just like all other incoming Berry freshmen. During SOAR they meet their academic advisors, register for Fall classes and get to know key administrators and student leaders across campus. Freshmen Gate Scholars also participate in Viking Venture, the second phase of new student orientation, which takes place in August the week before Fall classes begin.

FINANCIAL AID DETAILS

Q. Is the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship a “full-ride” scholarship? Does it cover all costs?

A. The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship greatly reduces the cost of attending Berry College, however it is not a full ride and does not cover all costs. Gate Scholars and their families have financial commitments each year.

Q. What does the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship apply toward?

A. The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship applies toward (but does not fully cover):

  • Full-time, undergraduate tuition charges for Fall and Spring Semesters (up to 8 semesters)
  • Mandatory fees
  • Housing charges for traditional residence halls (Ford, Dana,
  • Meal plan charges (default plan based on residence hall and year)
  • Summer and winter break housing (fully covered by Gate of Opportunity Scholarship)
  • Summer meal plan (partially subsidized based on annual FAFSA results)
  • Books and class supplies at the Berry College Bookstore (credit for up to $500 each Fall and Spring Semester; does not roll over)

Q. What is the FAFSA?

A. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a Federal aid application form available at fafsa.gov. Filing the FAFSA allows colleges to receive your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is often used for need-based aid consideration. Berry requires the FAFSA results (the EFC) to consider students for the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship. The FAFSA becomes available on January 1 each year (for those applying to receive the scholarship in the upcoming academic year). To qualify for Gate of Opportunity consideration, a student’s FAFSA-based EFC currently must be $20,000 or less.

Q. What are the financial commitments of Gate Scholars and their families?

A. Gate Scholars and their families are financially responsible for the following each year:

  • Paying 50% of the annual Expected Family Contribution (based on official FAFSA results)
  • Contributing 80% of the Gate Scholar’s work earnings (automatically deducted)
  • Any additional charges or expenses the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship does not apply toward (see below)

Q. What are examples of additional charges or expenses the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship does not apply toward?

A. The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship does not apply toward charges/expenses such as the following:

  • Any additional tuition charges or course fees
  • Additional housing or meal plan charges (for any campus residence halls other than traditional residence halls)
  • Any non-mandatory fees
  • Any fines (parking, library, residence hall, etc)
  • Any books and supplies not covered by the Gate Scholar Bookstore Credit
  • Costs associated with the choice to study abroad or participate in an internship
  • Summer tuition costs (with the exception of COM 203 for freshman Gate Scholars during their first summer, which is part of Gate Orientation)
  • Groceries for summer and winter breaks
  • Personal items such as toiletries, clothing, dorm room appliances, etc
  • Transportation costs
  • Medical/insurance costs
  • Laptops and other personal devices
  • Other personal expenses

Q. If I receive the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship, what happens to my merit scholarship and any other aid I’ve been offered by Berry?

A. The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship subsumes all other aid offers; merit scholarships and other aid will not stack with the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship. Further, due to the time commitment and nature of the scholarship award, students may not participate in the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship Program and another community scholarship at Berry (Bonner, Leadership Fellows, Whitehead Scholars, WinShape College Program, etc).

Q. How do outside scholarships and other external aid work for Gate Scholars?

A. Outside scholarships and other external aid (including Federal aid, State aid, Veteran’s benefits, privately funded scholarships/grants, etc) are subsumed by the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship; they reduce the amounts the donor and Berry College contribute toward the scholarship. Outside scholarships and external aid do not stack/combine with the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship; they do not apply toward the 50% EFC owed by the Gate Scholar/family, the student’s work earnings contribution or other charges. This applies to new, incoming Gate Scholars and returning/continuing Gate Scholars.

Q. Does the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship help with the cost of books?

A. Yes! Gate Scholars receive a credit in the Berry College Bookstore each Fall and Spring Semester (up to 8 semesters). The credit applies toward the cost of class-related books and supplies and covers up to $500 per semester. The books and supplies must be available for purchase at the Berry College Bookstore (located in Krannert Student Center). The credit may not be transferred or applied to another department or external source, may not be transferred to another student and is not available as cash money. Any balance left over in the credit will not roll over from semester to semester.

Q. What happens with a Gate Scholar’s work earnings? Do they receive any of their work earnings in a paycheck?

A. As part of their scholarship agreement, Gate Scholars contribute 80% of their work earnings toward their cost of attending Berry. This deduction happens automatically at each pay period. The remaining 20% (less taxes) goes to Gate Scholars in their paychecks. Taxes are taken out before the 80/20 split, so the amount the Gate Scholars receive is really 20% less taxes. This portion is considered “pocket money” and it will not be enough to cover all personal expenses. Gate Scholars will need to receive financial support from their families for personal expenses.

Q. How do Gate Scholars pay for personal expenses such as gas, car insurance, groceries in the summers and winter breaks, cell phone bills, etc? Will the 20% Gate Scholars receive in their paychecks be enough to cover such personal costs?

A. Personal expenses are the responsibility of Gate Scholars and their families. The 20% (less taxes) Gate Scholars receive will not be enough to cover all personal expenses. Personal expenses vary and should be determined by each individual family, but most Gate Scholars receive $50-150 per month from their families for expenses like groceries, transportation costs, cell phone bills, etc.

Q. Is student health insurance provided by the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship?

A. No, health insurance is not provided by Berry College or the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship Program. Berry students (including Gate Scholars) and their families are responsible for providing their own health insurance. The Berry College Health & Wellness Center provides limited services for all students, but health insurance is the responsibility of the student and family.

LIFESTYLE OF A GATE SCHOLAR

Q. Are Gate Scholars involved with other activities at Berry besides work?

A. Yes, Gate Scholars are fully engaged in all aspects of campus life at Berry! They participate in intercollegiate athletics, intramural sports, clubs, organizations, service projects, religious life and a variety of other activities. The Gate Scholars do have to employ strong time management skills and must be selective about additional commitments when balancing academics with their work hours, however they have the opportunity to benefit from all that Berry has to offer.

Q. Can I play an intercollegiate sport at Berry and be a Gate Scholar?

A. Absolutely! Gate Scholars can participate in intercollegiate sports. They must employ strong time management skills and may have to minimize other commitments due to the time-sensitive nature of being a college athlete, however a number of Gate Scholars have successfully managed a balance between academics, work and athletics. Please note, some majors with significant commitments (Teacher Education, Nursing, etc) may be more difficult to balance with athletics as a Gate Scholar.

Q. Do Gate Scholars have to live on campus all four years?

A. Yes, Gate Scholars are committed to living on campus as part of their scholarship commitment. This includes summers and winter breaks, as well as the Fall and Spring Semesters.  Living on campus reduces their out-of-pocket costs and also makes the academic and work balance easier for them, plus being on campus allows them to be actively engaged in the Berry community. Importantly, more than 90% of students live on campus – Berry is a residential community!

Q. Will I be able to participate in study abroad or an internship as a Gate Scholar?

A. Yes, Gate Scholars are able to participate in an internship or study abroad experience. They may apply for “release” from Gate Scholar work hours for part of one (1) summer in order to participate in an experience that will enhance their academic and/or career goals. Gate Scholars are encouraged to use this release opportunity during the summer before junior or senior year.

HOLIDAYS, SEMESTER BREAKS AND VACATION TIME FOR GATE SCHOLARS

Q. Are Gate Scholars able to go home for holidays and semester breaks? Do they get vacation time?

A. Yes! Gate Scholars have time off for college holidays and semester breaks (Fall Semester and Spring Break), plus they have approximately 1-2 weeks of vacation time to use each year. They work closely with their work supervisors to plan for time away that suits them and the needs of their work department. Most Gate Scholars use their vacation time during winter and/or summer breaks.

Q. When are the college holidays for Berry?

A. Berry College typically honors the following days as college holidays each year:

  • Fourth of July
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving (typically Wednesday, Thursday and Friday)
  • Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day (typically 6-8 days)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day

The college holiday schedule is announced by college administration on an annual basis and is subject to revision from year-to-year.

Most Gate Scholars do not work during college holidays, as college offices and departments are closed, classes are not held and most faculty/staff (work supervisors) have the holidays off. Exceptions are for those who work in animal units or other departments involving continuous service. In those cases, Gate Scholars plan their holiday and vacation schedule in close coordination with their work supervisors.

Q. When are the semester breaks for Gate Scholars?

A. Berry students receive 2 days of for Fall Break (typically Monday-Tuesday in mid-October) each Fall Semester, plus 5 days off for Spring Break (typically Monday-Friday in early to mid-March) each Spring Semester. While Gate scholars have the option to work during these semester breaks (if strategically beneficial in their annual work hours plans or upon special request of a work supervisor), most Gate Scholars take time off for the semester breaks to be with family or friends.

SUMMERS AS A GATE SCHOLAR

Q. When do I move in as a new Gate Scholar and when will I start working?

A. Move-in day for new Gate Scholars (freshmen and new upperclassmen) is typically in late June. For the 2015-16 entering class, move-in day will be Sunday, June 28, 2015. New Gate Scholars will participate in Gate Orientation, begin summer work and begin a summer class (for freshmen only) on Monday, June 29, 2015. Additional details will be provided for new Gate Scholars prior to move-in.

Q. Where are Gate Scholars housed during the summers?

A. All Gate Scholars are housed together during the summers, with separate floors for males and females. All Gate scholars should expect to live with a fellow Gate Scholar each summer. In recent summers, Gate Scholars lived in Dana Hall.

Q. How do meals work for Gate Scholars in the summers?

A. Gate Scholars are responsible for providing most of their own meals during summers. All summer residents (including Gate Scholars) are required to have a summer meal plan, which applies toward approximately one meal per weekday in Krannert Student Center during most of the summer. This summer meal plan is subsidized (based on the FAFSA-based EFC) for Gate Scholars. However, the summer meal plan will not apply toward all meals and Gate Scholars will need to receive grocery money from their families and provide most of their meals themselves. 

Q. Do Gate Scholars ever take summer classes?

A. All freshman Gate Scholars take Rhetoric & Public Address (COM 203, a required course for all Berry students regardless of major) during the first six weeks they are on campus in the summer. Through this course freshman Gate Scholars begin balancing a work and college class schedule, plus they develop a beneficial professional skill (public speaking). The freshman Gate Scholars take this course together, so it also serves as a great community building experience for them. The Gate of Opportunity Scholarship covers the tuition cost for this COM 203 course since it is considered part of orientation for freshman Gate Scholars. This opportunity is only offered to freshman Gate Scholars during their first summer at Berry. This is the only time the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship applies toward summer tuition; tuition is not covered for any other summer courses as part of the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship.

WINTER BREAKS AS A GATE SCHOLAR

Q. When is “Winter Break” for Gate Scholars?

A. Winter Break happens from mid-December to mid-January and is the time between the end of Fall Semester and the start of Spring Semester. College offices are open for approximately 3           weeks during this timeframe, and most Gate Scholars will work part or all of this time. The college is closed for college holidays from Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day and Gate Scholars typically go home to be with their families during the college holidays. 

Q. Where do Gate Scholars live while working during Winter Break?

A. Gate Scholars live in the residence halls at Berry College during Winter Break.

Q. How do meals work for Gate Scholars during Winter Break?

A. Gate Scholars are responsible for providing their own meals during Winter Break. There is no winter break meal plan. The food court in Krannert Student Center and the Berry Bean’ry (serves Starbucks coffee, tea, smoothies and pastries) are open for limited hours during the work day and students may purchase some of their meals there using their own money (cash, credit or debit cards). Most Gate Scholars receive grocery money from their families and they will often cook dinners together in the community kitchens in the residence halls.

Q. Does anything fun happen for Gate Scholars during Winter Break?

A. Yes! The Gate Scholars Program sponsors a holiday party in December after Fall Semester ends and another holiday party in January before Spring Semester begins. These traditions are a great way to fellowship and enjoy being at Berry during this special time of year. Food is provided by the Gate Scholars Program, and most Gate Scholars who are working during Winter Break will participate.