FAQs: AG Bell College Scholarship Program

These are the most commonly asked questions about the AG Bell College Scholarship Program.

Is membership required to apply?
No, membership in the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) is not required. However, preference may be given to AG Bell members.

What does membership in AG Bell provide?
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing helps families, health care providers and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Through advocacy, education, research and financial aid, AG Bell helps to ensure that every child and adult with hearing loss has the opportunity to listen, talk and thrive in mainstream society. With chapters located in the United States and a network of international affiliates, AG Bell supports its mission: Advocating Independence through Listening and Talking!

How do I become a member of AG Bell?
You can join online or you can contact the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at 202-337-5220 (voice) or by email.

If I have conductive hearing loss, can I apply?
As long as you meet all of the stated eligibility criteria – including the degree of hearing loss criteria – you may apply.

If I have normal hearing in one ear, do I qualify?

No, individuals with unilateral hearing loss do not meet the eligibility criteria.

Is it necessary to submit an audiogram or cochlear implant programming report with my application?
Yes; these provide documentation that you been diagnosed with a moderate to profound hearing loss. An application that does not include one of these documents is considered to be incomplete and will not be considered for an award.

My audiogram is several years old, is that okay?
Applicants using hearing aids must submit an audiogram performed within the past 24 months. Audiograms older than that are not acceptable. Cochlear Implant users must submit a programming report performed within the past 24 months.

If I use a cochlear implant and a hearing aid, do I need to send both a CI programming report and an audiogram?

Cochlear implant users only need to include the CI programming report.

How do I interpret my audiogram to determine eligibility?
The audiogram is a graph showing the results of the pure-tone-hearing tests performed by an audiologist. Once the audiogram is completed, the audiologist may compute the pure tone average (PTA) for the better ear and include it on your report. You can calculate the PTA by determining the average of the hearing thresholds at 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz., which are considered to be the major frequencies for speech. The PTA must be included in your application.

Formula for calculating the PTA:
On the unaided audiogram, look at the results for the better hearing ear at 500, 1000 and 2000 Hz and add those three numbers together, then divide that total by three. The result is the Pure Tone Average.

How do I get an application?
The application packet is available on the college scholarship page of the AG Bell website; you can download or print the packet.

Can I apply at any time of the year?
No, applications are only available during specific times of the year – usually in January with a deadline in the spring. It’s best to check the AG Bell website several times a year for the most updated information. If you become a member of AG Bell and provide an email address, you will receive weekly updates that will notify you when any financial aid or scholarship programs open.

If I apply this year can I apply again in the future?

Yes, as long as you meet all of the eligibility requirements each year, you may apply again in subsequent years. Caveat: There is a maximum of two scholarship awards provided to any individual applicant.

What if I don’t meet ALL of the eligibility requirements?
You should not apply if you don’t meet all of the eligibility criteria. Applications that do not meet all of the criteria are not considered for an award.

My weighted GPA is higher than the required GPA, but my unweighted GPA doesn’t meet the required GPA – can I still apply?
The committee will not consider applications that do not meet the stated eligibility criteria. The eligibility criterion for GPA is an unweighted cumulative GPA of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale.

Why do you use unweighted GPA?
Not all high schools offer AP or Honors courses, and we need to look at all students fairly; using a non-weighted GPA gives us a way to do this.

My school doesn’t provide an unweighted GPA; what do I do?

If an unweighted GPA does not appear on the transcript, you may have an appropriate representative of the school calculate your unweighted GPA and provide that information on official school letterhead.

My school has a challenging curriculum, how do you account for that if you use an unweighted GPA?
Your GPA is just one of many factors that the committee considers. It is important for you to highlight all of your skills and accomplishments throughout the application, including in your essay. The committee is looking for well-rounded individuals, not only applicants with just a high GPA.

How important are the letters of recommendation?

The committee places a high value on the information provided in the letters of recommendation. If the letters simply reiterate what is provided in other parts of your application, they are not helpful to the committee. The letters of recommendation should add key information about you, and each letter of recommendation should highlight different aspects of your personal or academic attributes. You can help with this by asking each recommender to highlight something different and specific about you.

Is the College Scholarship Program open to international applicants?

Yes, as long as applicants who reside outside of the United States meet all of the criteria, they may apply.

How much are the scholarships?
Scholarship awards range from $1,000 to $10,000 USD.

Can I fax my application?
No, faxed applications will not be accepted under any circumstances.

Should I photocopy my application?
Yes, we encourage you to retain a copy of your completed application forms for your records. Your application will not be returned to you under any circumstances.

How will I know that my application has been received?

We don’t confirm receipt of applications; however, if you provide an email address on your application, once the screening process has been complete, we will send an email to let you know the status of your application. Due to the volume of applications, we are not able to confirm status over the telephone or via email.

What if my application packet (including supporting materials) arrives after the deadline, even if I made every effort to mail it on time?
Applications and supporting materials that arrive after the established deadline are not considered for an award. AG Bell cannot accept responsibility for delivery or mail delays or problems or failures on the part of delivery services. Please do not contact AG Bell seeking an exception to this policy.

What happens once I send in my application for review?

All received applications are reviewed to ensure they have arrived by the deadline, are complete and meet the eligibility requirements. Applications that arrive complete, on time and meet all eligibility criteria are then forwarded to the award selection committee for review. Those that arrive late, are incomplete or do not meet all of eligibility criteria are removed from the review process.

How are the decisions for the awards made?
A committee—comprised of individuals from the field who have experience with high school and college students—evaluates the application materials and make the award decisions. All committee decisions are final.

Who has access to the information that I provide in my application?

AG Bell program staff and the review committee has access to your information. This information remains confidential and is used only for the review and award selection process. Once the awards have been made for the year, all applications are destroyed.

How will I know if I was selected for an award?

Both recipients and non-recipients will be notified by an email sent to the email address provided on the application.

If I am selected for an award, how can I use the funds?
Scholarship awards should be used to assist with college expenses such as tuition, books and room/board. We ask recipients to provide us with a written report summarizing their year of college including key experiences, progress and “lessons learned.”

Will the funds cover all of my expenses?
In all likelihood, no. Awards are intended to help with expenses.

What is pre-lingual deafness?
It refers to hearing loss which occurs before the child develops language which is generally defined to be around age three.

What is post-lingual deafness?
Post-lingual deafness is hearing loss acquired after first learning a language.

What does decibel (dB) mean?
Decibel is the unit of measurement for the loudness or volume (intensity) of sound; the higher the dB, the louder the sound.

What is the scale of hearing loss?

The following numerical values are based on the average of the hearing loss at three frequencies: 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz, in the better-hearing ear.

  • Normal Hearing (-10 dB to 15 dB)
  • Slight loss (16 dB to 25 dB)
  • Mild loss (26 dB to 30 dB)
  • Moderate (31 dB to 50 dB)
  • Moderate/Severe (51 dB to 70 dB)
  • Severe loss (71 dB to 90 dB)
  • Profound loss (91 dB or more)

Do you offer a scholarship to students who are in law school or in a specific masters or doctoral program?
The George H. Nofer Scholarship offers up to three $5,000 scholarships to students who are deaf and hard of hearing and who have been accepted to or are enrolled in an accredited law school or masters/doctoral program in public policy.

Is the George H. Nofer Scholarship renewable?
Recipients of the George H. Nofer Scholarship Award may apply for a scholarship in their subsequent years of study.

Do you have other questions?
Send us an email.