A scholar program worth the cost

Considering the cost of a college education today, you would think any help a student can get in paying tuition would be well received.

But that’s not the case in Indiana.

According to an Indianapolis Star report, 80 percent — more than 14,000 students — who could qualify for a state-funded 21st Century scholarship, are behind on meeting the new requirements for the program. Those students are running the risk of leaving money on the table at a time when families can ill afford to miss out on financial assistance.

The 21st Century Scholars program was created to help low-income Hoosiers afford college. Through the program, students can get as much as four years’ tuition at a state public university or a comparable amount to go on to a private school. But students are lagging in meeting the program’s mandates.

Lawmakers decided to add new requirements to the program after becoming concerned about the poor college completion rates of students in the program. Students graduating next year will be the first to have to complete 12 tasks, including coming up with a graduation plan, making a college campus visit and taking part in a service program. The goal is to give students a more rigorous program and hold them accountable.

The scholarships were started under then-Gov. Evan Bayh and gave financial assistance to low-income students who meet certain academic requirements and stay out of trouble.

Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program has been a success, and the recent changes are intended to maintain that success. Higher education is a necessary component, not only of individual success but also is critical in helping to advance Indiana’s future economic health.

It’s important those students stay committed and on track. There are resources available to help students succeed, many of which can be found at scholars.in.gov.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.