HAMILTON COUNTY, IN – The number of eligible students in Hamilton County enrolled in the State of Indiana’s Twenty-first Century Scholars (TFCS) program, which offers free college tuition to eligible students who observe a pledge to earn good grades and stay out of trouble, jumped by 36%, Legacy Fund President Terry Anker announced today.
The Twenty-first Century Scholars Enrollment Challenge is a part of Central Indiana Community Foundation’s (CICF) College Readiness Initiative, which was created to increase educational attainment throughout central Indiana. Originally launched in Marion County in 2010, the Enrollment Challenge awards school counselors with gift cards for enrolling 75% or more of eligible students – students who participate in a public school free- and reduced-lunch program – into the State’s Twenty-first Century Scholars Program.
Legacy Fund, an affiliate of CICF, introduced the Enrollment Challenge to Hamilton County in May, 2012. According to Hamilton County Community School Corporation records, Hamilton County had approximately 8,500 students in the public school system in the 2012 school year; 1,247 (or 16%) of those students qualified for the free-and-reduced lunch program. Thirty-two percent of those eligible 7th and 8th graders were enrolled in the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program (a total of 388 students) and 40% of eligible 8th graders (a total of 247 students) were enrolled. Following the Enrollment Challenge, which ended on June 30, 2012, enrollment in the Twenty-first Century Scholars program by eligible students in Hamilton County had increased by 139 students, or a total increase of 36%; 8th grade enrollment jumped to 53% according to Amy Parraga, TFCS Regional Site Director.
Schools that surpassed the 75% enrollment goal (7th & 8th grade) include Riverside Junior High (Hamilton Southeastern School District) and Sheridan Middle School (Sheridan Community Schools). School counselors Angela Mott, Chris Graves and Nikki Zachary each received a gift card valued at $300 for their role in helping students enroll in the program.
“For first time in the Twenty-first Century Scholar program’s history, more than half of all eligible 8th graders in Hamilton County are enrolled in the program,” Anker said. “As a result of the Enrollment Challenge, and school counselors who worked hard to get them into the program, these students are more likely to enroll in post-secondary opportunities following high school graduation. This is an important opportunity for them, as well as their families and our community.”
Anker and Legacy Fund staff announced the results at the Legacy Fund offices in Carmel, Indiana and were joined by approximately 40 counselors from county middle and high schools, as well as Grants staff from CICF. In addition to Enrollment Challenge results, Parraga also announced changes to the Twenty-first Century Scholars program. All students in the program must now begin using the scholarship within one year of high school graduation and have eight years of eligibility. Starting with the class of 2015, students must graduate high school with a minimum 2.5 GPA to receive the scholarship. Finally, students enrolled in the program on or before June 30, 2011 will not be required to have their family income reevaluated during their senior year. Students enrolled after that date will be required to participate in an income means test. All TFCS eligibility information can be viewed at www.scholars.in.gov.