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A general assembly scholarship is a financial award members of a legislature — the general assembly — give to students who meet specific eligibility criteria. They typically are allowed annually via laws specific to the jurisdiction. In most cases, legislators award the scholarships to undergraduates, but the number and amount of the scholarships varies.
The requirements for a general assembly scholarship vary from region to region. Most general assembly aid programs stipulate common scholarship requirements such as a minimum grade point average or standardized test score. The scholarships apply only to certain schools, which typically are government-funded institutions. Another requirement usually present for a general assembly scholarship is that the recipient be a resident of the jurisdiction the legislator represents.
The number of scholarships a legislator may distribute through a general assembly aid program is not consistent. The amount of funding typically is definite, but the legislator may determine how many people receive funds within stipulations of current law. For instance, he could choose to give one person a full-ride scholarship for four years or four people full-ride scholarships for one year. The most important thing is that the total amount of the awards is within the allotted budget.
Those who wish to receive a general assembly scholarship must go through a formal application process similar to those associated with any other scholarship program. This includes filling out a form, providing evidence of academic success such as transcripts and test scores, and writing a personal statement explaining how the award would be of benefit and what the applicant's goals are. Legislators often require a letter of recommendation, as well.
Generally, taxes are the funding source for a general assembly scholarship. Thus, careful attention is paid to how legislators make their recipient selections and how the scholarship money is paid out. These programs are not without scandal as a result. People sometimes criticize them because legislators have given awards to individuals associated with campaign support, but the amount of subjectivity within a program ultimately depends on which legislator is in control of nominations at a given point and how laws related to the program are worded.
General assembly scholarships are not permanent fixtures. If a legislature decides that the program has been corrupted, or if the budget does not allow further support of the program, legislators may opt to revise laws so the program is adjusted or abolished. Even when the programs have good support, it is necessary to check with the legislator to verify what the current award amount is for the year, as legislators try to make adjustments for rising costs of living and increasing fees.
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