Twenty-first Century Scholars is a state-funded program that helps students from low- and moderate-income families throughout Indiana fulfill their dreams of obtaining a college education. The group helps locate financial assistance and cover the leftover cost of tuition for eligible students attending an Indiana-based college.
"We've got to get the word out there about this program," Student Coordinator Jack Shroeder said. "We have about 200 (eighth-grade) students from around the state enrolled right now, but we would like to have more participate before the deadline this month on June 30."
The program, founded in 1990, is the only one in the country that guarantees full tuition for four years to qualified students.
With a primary goal to help more students continue their education, the program also works to help reduce the high school dropout rate, prepare students for the workforce, decrease the use of drugs and alcohol among middle and high school students while improving the individual economic productivity and quality of life for all Indiana residents.
Middle school students residing in Indiana who do not exceed the income maximum can enroll in the program during their seventh and eighth grades. To apply this year, students need to fill out their applications and sign a good citizenship promise, the Scholar's Pledge, stating their intent to graduate and to not be convicted of a crime while remaining alcohol and drug free during their time in high school. The application needs to be turned in on or before June 30.
"Participation in this program makes a big difference in a student's mindset about college, that it is a possibility for them," Schroeder said. Students active in the program have a higher graduation rate than those who don't. "They go to college and become contributing members to society."
To qualify for the program's financial assistance, high school seniors need to graduate with at least a 2.0 grade point average, remain drug and alcohol free, not be convicted of a crime and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on time.
"Participation in this program just makes sense for everyone involved," Shroeder said. "This program is the best use of taxpayers' dollars out there. This program creates better citizens, a better workforce, better communities and a better Indiana."