|New scholarship helps 7th and 8th graders go to college
Release posted: February 1st, 2008
|Washington middle-school students who dream of going to college but worry their families won’t be able to afford it have a new promise from the state: Work hard in school, keep your grades up, stay out of trouble, and a four-year scholarship could be yours. The College Bound Scholarship covers college tuition, fees and books for students from low-income families who sign a pledge in 7th or 8th grade promising to graduate from high school and demonstrate good citizenship. Eighth grade students must apply by June 1, 2008, while this year’s seventh graders will have until June 1, 2009.
About 56,000 students are eligible to apply this year. Family income must be 65 percent or less than the state’s median family income at the time the student graduates from high school. (Currently, 65 percent of the median family income is $38,300 for a family of four).
Higher Education Coordinating Board Executive Director Ann Daley said the College Bound program holds the promise that “all children in Washington, regardless of family income, will have an opportunity to attend college.”
According to Daley, the scholarship will help address Washington’s critical need to educate more students to higher levels, while also helping the state keep pace with demographic trends that show an increase in the number of students from low-income families.
“The state’s need for highly educated and highly skilled workers is growing rapidly,” Daley said.
“In addition, low-income students will represent 33 percent of the high school graduating class within 10 years. Without assistance, the vast majority of these students are unlikely to enroll in or even aspire to attend college.”
Washington currently ranks 32nd nationally in the percentage of low-income students who participate in postsecondary education.
The new scholarship program was proposed in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s 2006 Washington Learns report following an 18-month study of the state’s education system.
During the 2007 legislative session, Senate Bill 5098 established the College Bound Scholarship in statute. The governor and Legislature allocated $7.4 million to pay for the first two years of the program, beginning in 2012.
The scholarship program also is consistent with key components of the HECB’s recently completed 2008 Strategic Master Plan for Higher Education in Washington. Among other strategies, the new 10-year plan calls for making college more affordable and easier to access and creating higher expectations for K-12 students.
Most students who qualify for the College Bound Scholarship will likely also qualify for the State Need Grant, which helps Washington’s lowest-income undergraduate students pursue degrees. The need grant – the state’s largest financial aid program – is expected to serve about 72,000 students in 2007-08. The College Bound Scholarship is intended to fill the gap between the State Need Grant and the actual cost of college, while also offering a measure of certainty for younger students who would otherwise fear they won’t be able to afford college.
Daley said the College Bound program will help students begin to prepare for college at an earlier age – which studies have shown is critical to their success in postsecondary education.
“This scholarship has the potential to change thousands of lives,” Daley said.
She said the HECB has received about 860 applications from students who are taking the pledge.
“It is inspiring to look at stacks of envelopes, hand-addressed by 7th and 8th graders, who are realizing that a college education will help open the door to their dreams.”
The College Bound Scholarship program is similar to Indiana's 21st Century Scholars program, which was created in 1990 to help more families afford a college education for their children. The Indiana program has helped make that state a national leader in the percentage of students who go on to college – moving from 40th to 9th in the nation.
The 21st Century Scholars program is available to every child who qualifies for the free or reduced lunch program and who signs a written pledge to graduate from high school with passing grades and to avoid drugs and alcohol. In exchange, students are provided with a full college scholarship to the public university of their choice or with an equivalent scholarship to be used toward tuition at any private university in the state.
Find out more:
Seventh and eighth grade students can apply now for the scholarship
Edmonds Community College Foundation Scholarships