A look into the JanPlan funding process with Associate Director of Global Experiences Scott Lamer

In 1962, Colby launched JanPlan, an innovative study program dedicated to providing the student body with “a new outlook on learning,” according to the College’s website. Students are offered the chance to take a course on campus, conduct independent studies, participate in internships, or take classes abroad. However, the costs of these opportunities are not included in tuition. Many students may have to apply for funding in order to sponsor their trips or unpaid internships.

DavisConnects strives to aid students who are in need of funding, but what the school can provide is limited. How DavisConnect’s resources are distributed is a matter of concern amongst students. In an email to the Echo, Associate Director of Global Experiences Scott Lamer addressed those concerns and more.

Lamer described that what DavisConnects is doing is beyond allocating money. It tries to act as “a resource and a clearinghouse for Colby funding.” DavisConnects is a portal that connects students with financial support from the College as well as external organizations. 

Lamer described the process of how the applications are reviewed. The faculty and staff who deliberate on funding decisions take their considerations on different levels. They are not constrained to a rubric, however, there are certain things that they tend to look for in an application. Here are Lamer’s insights.

The Echo: What kind of funding does the school provide to its students?

Lamer: Colby provides a variety of opportunities to its students, beyond the traditional aid package, in order to prepare them for lifelong success, personally and professionally. Many academic departments, programs, and institutions at Colby offer scholarships and grants to support internships, research positions, and global experiences. One of the central goals of DavisConnects is to ensure that every student graduates with one or more of each of these experiences under their belt. Whether a student is funded by us or we help them navigate opportunities around campus, we act as a resource and a clearinghouse for Colby funding. Our online funding platform automatically matches students to funds they are eligible for while our staff provides direct support in submitting a successful application.

E: Where does the money come from?

L: Generous support comes from a large pool of donors in the form of endowed funds that exist in perpetuity or in specific, limited amounts on an annual basis. Many Colby alumni, parents, and friends give back to the College or donors may give in memory of loved ones from the Colby community. Criteria for use may include a specific type of experience, for a particular major, for use in a certain geographic location, or for students with financial needs. 

E: What would be the total budget for an applicant?

L: Award amounts vary depending on the funding source, however our average grants range from $2,500 to $3,000. Other funds offer a preset amount, a maximum, or are based on the expenses required to make that experience possible. Budget preparation is an important component of the application process. At DavisConnects, we provide budget worksheets before the application deadline, provide guidance on what makes a realistic budget, and encourage students to do their research. 

E: Is there a priority between faculty led Jan Plans and independent projects?

L: No experience is prioritized over another. Funding is offered for internships, research opportunities, Colby faculty led courses abroad, eligible programs during school breaks, and sometimes in-semester opportunities. Awards are allocated to students who demonstrate value and purpose, among other criteria.

E: What do you usually look for in an application and how do you decide who gets funded?

L: The funding committee at DavisConnects is made up of a half dozen Colby faculty and staff members who give each application a careful and thorough review. A quality application demonstrates the contribution that the applicant brings to the opportunity, outlines specific learning objectives, and successfully articulates how the opportunity enhances their Colby experience and post-grad pathway. Additionally, successful applications should be accompanied by a well researched and detailed budget, a strong faculty reference, a decent resume, and the applicant must be in good academic standing. Other funding committees outside of DavisConnects have their own criteria depending on the nature of the award. In many cases, our office collaborates with other funding committees to ensure equitable and inclusive funding practices. 

E: Are there many students that would apply to a specific fund such as the Sandy Maisel fund?

L: Yes, there are a number of prestigious funding opportunities campus-wide, beyond DavisConnects opportunities. Applicants are automatically matched in the online platform to funds that DavisConnects directly administers. For those opportunities offered by other academic departments, programs, and institutions on campus, applicants will be automatically prompted in the system to apply directly, answering fund specific questions after submitting the common application. Opportunities may be recommended to applicants in the system based on the students’ qualifications. This is determined by answers that are given in the common application or information that is attached to the student’s school record. 

Davis Connects works to provide students with amazing and unique experiences. The hindrance that may keep students away from these opportunities is not seeking out for help and assistance, and DavisConnects is the right place for you to learn more and participate more. See https://www.colby.edu/davisconnects/student-funding for more information about student funding on the official site, and https://colby.academicworks.com to visit the funding portal.

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