The first requirements for high school freshmen include writing a graduation plan and completing a learning module on “Paying for College 101.” Freshmen also must be involved with an extracurricular or community service activity.
Diana Washington, a Scholars outreach coordinator who helps students enroll and remain eligible, described how positive activities outside of the classroom help students prepare for postsecondary success. “It’s about a cultural experience,” Washington said. “It’s about how do I communicate. How do I talk with individuals who I have never experienced before? How do I fit in? Those skills help me develop community when I’m on the postsecondary campus.”
Requirements during sophomore year include completing a career interest assessment, visiting a workplace and utilizing the Indiana College Cost Estimator (www.indianacollegecosts.org), which helps students compare their estimated costs for attending Indiana colleges or universities.
High school juniors will be required to make a college visit, take a college entrance exam (such as the SAT) and search for additional scholarships. According to Chris Enstrom, director of outreach, too many Scholars do not realize that they are still eligible for other financial aid including the federal Pell grant.
“That proves the point of why the Scholar Success Program is so valuable,” Enstrom explained. By learning about financial aid during freshman year and then searching for scholarships during junior year, “they’re going to learn about financial aid and all the different ways it works, so they’re not a senior in school and trying to scramble and figure out what they’re going to do and how to pay for what.”
As seniors, Scholars then must submit a college application, complete the learning session, “College Success 101,” and file the federal student aid form – the FAFSA.
Matt Fleck, a former Indiana Department of Education official who now advises schools and families on postsecondary financial aid, said the Scholar Success Program can help low-income students obtain more education leading to better jobs at higher wages.