Tuition waivers help students finance academic goals, get work experience

Published by J.R. Williams on

For many students, funding for college is the difference between following a career path that aligns with their passions or just getting a job.  

Dexter Patching takes advantage of UCC’s music program and hones his bass guitar skills.
Photo provided by Dr. Jason Heald

College students have the unique struggle of trying to prioritize school while being continually pressured to prioritize everything else. The Revealing Institutional Strengths and Challenges group found that 61% of the students who reported work-related challenges did not leave enough time for study, and “an additional 36% said that work prevented them from using campus resources. Approximately half reported that their pay was not enough to cover their expenses while in school, and one-third said their work schedule conflicted with class times,” according to a 2019 study.

Working while attending school full time is not always an option, and not every family is able to support students. To help finance students’ dreams, UCC offers performance and academic-based tuition waivers called merit awards; however, many merit awards often go unclaimed each term.

Merit awards are offered fall through spring terms in the form of tuition waivers by departments including theater, music, fine arts, The Mainstream student media, ASUCC student government, esports, obstacle course racing, track and field, student ambassadors and others.

Merit awards waive 12 credits of student tuition in exchange for service to the college but requirements for the merit awards vary by department. Money for the merit awards comes from the UCC general fund each year, and the number of awards available is decided by UCC’s CFO, Natalia Brown. 

The tuition waiver is applied to student accounts before scholarships and grants are assessed, and any extra funds left in student accounts are paid directly to the student.

“The merit award and music program are why I came to UCC. I am not from Roseburg but heard UCC had an excellent music program. I never thought I could major in music in college, and I am thankful the award has made that possible,” said Dexter Patching, a second-year AST music major.

Requirements for the merit awards vary by department, but, in general, students must register for and maintain 12 credits per term, participate in the tasks specified by the department awarding the merit waiver and maintain their GPA as required.  Failure to meet the requirements outlined by the department can result in the student repaying the merit award equivalent.

Merit awards can usually be used consecutively for up to two years, “which fits nicely into the schedule for an AAOT degree program,” said Jason Heald, associate music professor.

The music program merit awards require students to take at six music courses during the two years.  “Tuition waivers for full-time students are reserved for students active in music and core curriculum,” said Heald.  

Many of the merit awards require service or performance from the student for UCC. 

Fine art, theater and music merit awards require students to perform or display their artistic talents for UCC events.  “Merit award students are an important part of UCC environment,” said Christina Allaback, director of theater at UCC.

The theater department has fewer class participation requirements, but signing up for production, stagecraft or design is recommended.  Theater merit students have a broad range of responsibilities relating to the logistic of production, acting as an assistant to associate professor Allaback.

“It helps me, as a theater artist, to have technical theater assistants to keep Center Stage Theatre running,” said Allaback.

The Mainstream merit awards allow students to use their computer, web design, photography, videography, writing or editing skills for the college paper.  Journalism merit awards require one course per term and varying contributions depending on which roles students undertake.

The Athletics department has merit awards available for esports, obstacle course racing and track and field.  The merit awards available for other sports are typically filled quickly by students recruited by the athletics department.

For more information on available merit awards contact the departments directly:

ASUCC – Marjan Coester, director of student engagement 541-400-7749

Theater – Christina Allaback, assistant professor of performing arts 541-440-4694

Fine arts – Susan Rochester, associate professor of visual arts 541-440-4692

The Mainstream – Melinda Benton, associate professor of communication studies and writing 541-440-4645

Athletics – Craig Jackson, athletic director 541-440-7729

Contact me at:

For more articles by J.R. Williams please click here.