Pharos-Tribune

June 4, 2013

OUR VIEW: Time to apply for scholars program


Pharos-Tribune

— Indiana’s Twenty-first Century Scholars program makes a simple promise: If you avoid drugs, stay out of trouble with the law and graduate high school with at least a 2.5 grade point average, the state will pay your college tuition.

The promise is working — for those students who apply.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education says that in 2006, 79 percent of Twenty-first Century Scholars graduated from high school, compared to 59 percent of low-income students as a whole. These students were nearly three times as likely to go to college as other students in the same income bracket.

But just 40 percent of Hoosier students receiving free or reduced-price lunches apply for the full-tuition scholarship.

The Twenty-first Century Scholars program currently is accepting applications. If your child is in the seventh or eighth grade and qualifies for assistance in paying for school meals, log onto www.in.gov/ssaci/2345.htm and enroll.

The deadline to apply is June 30. Don’t delay.

We all want our children to stay away from drugs, focus on their studies and chase their dreams by going to college. By making a simple pledge to remain drug-free and maintaining a GPA of 2.5, Indiana will pay your child’s way to a state-supported college or university.

Data gathered by the Commission for Higher Education make a good case for the Twenty-first Century Scholars program. “It is clear that high expectations, the promise of college opportunity, and no-cost tuition can do much to increase college access and success for at-risk students,” the commission reports.

That same data strongly suggest our Twenty-first Century Scholars must push themselves academically and earn an honors diploma in high school. Thirty-seven percent of Howard County’s scholars who enrolled in a state-supported college in 2011 required remediation their freshman year. Yet, countywide, just 5 percent of our 2011 honors graduates attending a public college needed such help.

Why is this so important? The Commission for Higher Education has found that students who take a remedial college course have a 1 in 4 chance of graduating.