Students have more hoops to jump through to obtain 21st Century Scholars Program tuition dollars, but it will be worth it.
The most significant change is that all 21st Century Scholars who start high school this fall will be required to complete the new Scholar Success Program by graduation in order to qualify for their scholarships. This program is designed to ensure that students understand and complete specific steps required to access and succeed in college.
Ninety percent of the students who sign up for the program graduate from high school and nearly 90 percent of those enter college, better than the state’s 67 percent of all high school students, reported Brianna Morse, Indiana Commission for Higher Education 21st Century Scholars Southeast Indiana outreach coordinator, Columbus.
Yet just 23 percent earn an associate or bachelor’s degree on time. “A lot of students are going to take five years to get their degree, sometimes six,” said the Indianapolis woman at the July 17 Indiana Youth Institute Youth Worker Café at Ivy Tech Community College, Batesville. The problem is 21st Century Scholars financial aid runs out after four years and when that stops, some drop out of college. Morse emphasized state officials want to see that 23 percent rise – a lot.
Students enroll in the program in seventh or eighth grade. “You must sign up no later than June 30 at the end of your eighth-grade year,” according to Morse. “We just launched our online application today.” There is one exception to the deadline. Students in foster care may enroll later, in high school, and some requirements could be waived.
The middle-schoolers’ families must be income-eligible. Income requirements are listed on the Web site Scholars.IN.gov. “Generally speaking, if you qualify for the free and reduced lunch program,” the student can become a Scholar, but he or she must enroll.