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Initially, the local North South Foundation center (otherwise called CHAPTER) advertises scholarship information through local newspapers, TV or radio. The information is communicated both in English and the local language. The media does this free of charge as a community service. The announcement about the scholarship program is normally done from June through the end of July.
Each chapter keeps track of the local entrance examination schedules. Shortly after the examinations have taken place, the announcements are made public. Students normally have four weeks to send in their applications. While the applications are received along with the academic scores and documents on financial status of the candidates, the Selection Committee gets established. Selecting the right people on the Selection Committee is perhaps the most crucial element of the whole process. The Committee members within each NSF chapter are selected based on their credentials and respect in the community. Usually three to five members are selected based on their respective integrity, honesty, character, trust, and reputation. The most often asked question from donors is about the selection process. While this may appear to be a tedious affair initially, the process becomes easier over time.
The Committee screens out all applications based on academic qualifications first, and on the financial need, second. The academic criteria is that the student should score among the top five percent (relaxed to top 10 percent for rural and girl students) in the Common Entrance Test (CET), or achieve 85% or more marks in Intermediate or Higher Secondary School Exam in the absence of CET or equivalent. The second requirement is that the annual family income should not exceed Rs. 38,000 in urban areas or Rs. 26,000 in rural areas (based on data from the National Sample Survey in India.) Further, priority is given to students coming from public schools and attending government colleges, since such students tend to come from poorer sections of the society. In addition, preference is given to fresh students going to college and to students who got the top ranks in the first attempt.
Once the applications have been screened, a short list of candidates is made for the interview process. Each student and a parent are interviewed and verifications are made as to the genuineness of their applications. Candidates from out of town are reimbursed for a one way trip to attend the interview. The interview process and the verification process are quite extensive because every effort is made to make sure the aid is going to the most needy and deserving.
After each chapter finalizes its choices for awards, the information is sent to the NSF Home Office in India. Here, the final list of candidates are selected and then the information is in turn relayed to the North South Foundation in the US. Finally, an award ceremony is scheduled and announced at each chapter. This not only helps the student from being recognized, but also makes people become aware of the North South Foundation and its activities.
The student must maintain good grades to retain scholarship for each year of study. The scholarship money is paid from the NSF Home Office. The scholarships noramlly cover 100% of the tuition fee in government colleges. The student’s family is expected to cover the remaining costs such as room and board and books either through their own funds or other scholarships.
The North South Foundation is growing every year. The average award is equivalent to the US $200 per student per year. In order to establish a new NSF chapter in India, a minimum guideline of 10 scholarships has to be supported. Therefore, if the average award is over four years, then at least $8,000 is needed to establish a new chapter. Future plans also include fundraising efforts within India.
In a nutshell you have learned the entire scholarship process; the Foundation welcomes any new ideas, thoughts, or comments as to how to improve this process.