One Indiana program that may provide students with up to four years of undergraduate tuition at a participating college or university in Indiana is the 21st Century Scholars program.
Through this program, a comparable amount is offered to students who opt to attend a private college or university, and an amount equal to that of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana is offered to students who opt to attend a proprietary or for-profit college, according to the 21st Century Scholars website.
Specific requirements exist for students interested in the program to qualify. To be a 21st Century Scholar, students must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, graduate with a Core40 diploma and attend a college or university in Indiana. Students also must complete the Scholar Success Program in its entirety to apply for the scholarship.
According to the 21st Century Scholars website, the graduating class of 2017 is the “first group required to confirm completion of all 12 Scholar Success Program activities using ScholarTrack as a condition of earning their scholarship.”
The Scholar Success Program is an online program that includes sets of activities that guide high school students to stay on through college, and career goals along with objectives. Starting with freshmen, each grade level includes three activities that must be completed.
21st Century Scholar Specialist at the University of Indianapolis Anna Will said that the program helps students develop the necessary skills for advanced education.
“The activities they [students] have to complete are college preparedness activities: filling out the FAFSA, taking the ACT, visiting a college campus,” Will said. “I think it’s a great way to encourage students to complete those activities so that they are prepared for college.”
Those activities are completed through an online program called ScholarTrack, which has been updated this year in order to create a more user-friendly platform.
The update for ScholarTrack replaces 21st Century Scholar students’ old accounts; the update replaces the eStudent accounts of those who are already enrolled in an Indiana college or university.
To be a 21st Century Scholar, students must sign up by June 30 of their eighth grade year (although students may sign up any time during their seventh grade year). Students must be a legal United States citizen and Indiana resident; they also must be enrolled in an Indiana school that is recognized by the Indiana Department of Education.
Students who sign up for the 21st Century Scholar program also must meet specific income requirements.
Students who receive the scholarship must attend an Indiana college or university after graduation or be enrolled in an Indiana college or university within one year of their graduation.
Once enrolled, students must maintain a Satisfactory Academic Progress, or SAP, to keep their scholarships.
The SAP includes taking a minimum of 30 credit hours per year, which requires students to attend school full time, and other requirements that depend on the university, such as GPA requirements and percentage of credit hours passed.
Junior nursing major Maggie Jones said that she is in favor of the requirements for 21st Century Scholars because it encourages them to strive for excellence, behaviorally and academically.
“I think [the requirements] are beneficial because they make you more motivated to stay on track,” Jones said.
Before receiving the scholarship, students also must take a pledge that requires them to abstain from any illegal drug or alcohol consumption and crime.
Support for 21st Century Scholars is provided at colleges and universities throughout Indiana. Depending on the size of the school, the amount of support staff varies. Certain institutions enroll more 21st Century Scholars than others.
For example, at the UIndy, Will is the sole specialist for 21st Century Scholars, and she provides support and guidance to students throughout their years at UIndy. This includes academic planning and regular meetings to ensure that each participant is meeting every requirement necessary to continue as a 21st Century Scholar.
“I provide a lot of support through one-on-one meetings with students, covering their requirements that they have to complete each year to renew their scholarships,” Will said.
Although Will is the only 21st Century Scholars specialist at UIndy, she said that she works in coordination with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. This partnership is vital to determining Will’s objectives for students.
“This position is in a partnership with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, and they’ve set four objectives for me to hit upon while I’m supporting students,” Will said. “So I try to provide different activities and programming in four main areas, and those areas are academic performance, student enrichment, career preparation and exploration, and financial literacy and debt management.”
Will also sets up workshops and other events to help students maintain their scholarships.
More information about 21st Century Scholars can be found at scholars.in.gov.