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GVC-BestScholarshipsBy Gabrielle Kratsas
June 2018

College Promise scholarship programs offering free tuition have been around for a long time, but a majority of the statewide, publicly funded programs have cropped up in just the last couple years. The College Promise Campaign started in 2015. About 200 government entities and private organizations have created their own Promise scholarships to help eligible students earn certificates and degrees without cost as a barrier.

In 2017 alone, eight more states joined the free college effort with their own publicly-funded programs. These offer grants to all eligible state residents that cover costs like partial or full tuition, mandatory fees, books and even transportation.  New York State recently started the country’s first program to guarantee free tuition at four-year colleges and universities.

However, every program comes with its own set of eligibility requirements and “promises” the recipient must make in order to keep receiving the funding, such as remaining/working in the state for a certain number of years after graduation. Individual programs also offer varied levels of funding, which can be confusing when they come with the “free college tuition” label. Some of them also require years of planning and multiple deadlines, beginning the scholarship application process as early as the eighth grade.

To help simplify your quest for an affordable college degree, we reviewed these programs’ requirements. We ranked them according to their general accessibility and actual amount of aid awarded. To do this, we started with all of the active College Promise scholarships in America. We then narrowed them down to those that are publicly funded and offer coverage to students statewide, as opposed to students from specific cities, counties, high schools, etc. From there, we reviewed each and ranked them according to our own point system, explained below.

Civic Nation is a charitable and educational 501(c)(3) organization that educates the public about issues arising from challenges in the areas of federal, state and local policy. It founded the College Promise Campaign in 2015, which created a database tracking all of the Promise scholarship programs throughout the U.S. Using this database, we analyzed each program based on its eligibility requirements; award amount; degree type coverage; number of two- and four-year colleges that accept the award; accessibility for nontraditional students; timeline limits; funding type; and additional program offerings like mentoring or a volunteer service requirement.

For the sake of accessibility, we didn’t include West Virginia’s statewide program because it’s solely based on merit, and we gave more points to programs with simpler merit requirements. We also left out North Carolina’s Career and College Promise program because you can only utilize it while you are still in high school.

The point system we used in our ranking works as follows:

  • First-, Middle-, or Last-Dollar Funding: First (3 points); Middle or Last Dollar Plus (1 point)
  • Range of Costs Covered: Coverage beyond tuition and fees (4 points); Tuition for a bachelor’s degree (3 points); Tuition for an associate’s degree (2 points); Award funds can be used for graduate-level courses (2 points)
  • Eligibility Requirements: Merit requirement is a 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale (2 points); >2.5 GPA required (-1 point); DACA students can apply (3 points); Post-college in-state residency requirement (-1 point)
  • Timeline Limitations: Part- or half-time students are eligible (3 points); Award funds cover summer and/or winter terms (2); Students have more than four years before the award ends (1 point); Available only to recent high school grads (-1 point)*
  • School Choice: More than three schools accept the program funding (3 points); More than one school accepts funding (1 point); At least one four-year college/university accepts funding (1 point); Award recipient must be in a certain type of program (-1 point)
  • Program Extras: Award recipients also receive mentoring or guidance counseling (2 points); Recipients must complete volunteer work (1 point); Award funds will rise–or fall–to match participating schools’ tuition rates (2 points); Additional services offered to recipients (1 point each)

*Students must enroll in college one year or less post high school graduation.

21. Nevada Promise Scholarship

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The Nevada Promise Scholarship has a mentorship component, designed “to empower youth to thrive regardless of life transitions” through established partnership with several community organizations.

Points: 5

Established by the Nevada Legislature in 2017, the Nevada Promise Scholarship covers the gap between “tuition” and all other federal and state aid. Nevada residents are not charged tuition at any of the state’s four community colleges:

  • College of Southern Nevada
  • Great Basin College
  • Truckee Meadows Community College
  • Western Nevada College

So, this scholarship simply covers the registration fee and mandatory fees. It was funded only for the high school graduating class of 2018, and it’s not certain whether funds will be appropriated by the 2019 Nevada Legislature.

This fee coverage can last up to three years for anyone with a high school diploma who applied before turning 20-years-old. To apply, you aren’t expected to be under a certain income level or achieve any specific levels of merit. But if you are a recipient, this must be your first associate’s or bachelor’s degree. You also must register for at least 12 credits each fall and spring immediately following high school graduation. Awardees also have mandatory meetings and meet with an assigned mentor, with whom they’ll work to complete 20 hours of community service.

20. Delaware’s Inspire Scholarship

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The Inspire Scholarship at Delaware State University will fill the tuition gap for up to six semesters for recent high school graduates.

Points: 5

This is the lower-ranking of Delaware’s two statewide scholarship programs on our list. The Inspire Scholarship aims to help recent high school graduates attend Delaware State University by covering the difference of tuition up to the maximum of $3,000 per year. Subject to available funds appropriated by the Delaware General Assembly, this promise scholarship also has a community service component. Students must complete at least 10 hours of community service, as defined by DSU, each semester that they receive Inspire.

Other eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Be admitted and enroll in the fall semester immediately following graduation from a high school in the state
  • Satisfy Delaware residency requirements as described in Delaware State University’s residency policy and enroll on a degree-seeking basis
  • Earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher
  • Complete the FAFSA by March 15 annually, and accept all appropriate forms of financial aid for which you’re eligible, except for loans
  • Have no felony convictions pending when you apply or after you’re admitted to DSU
  • Stay enrolled full-time and complete 12 or more credit hours during the regular academic calendar

19. Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program

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The Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship program offers free tuition at any public or private college in the state; the Kentucky Community and Technical College System has the highest number of qualifying programs.

Points: 6

Created in 2017, the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program is a last-dollar promise scholarship that pays tuition of up to 32 credit hours at 16 colleges and more than 70 campuses across the state. This free tuition program is for recent high school graduates and nontraditional/adult students who have yet to achieve an associate’s degree, earn an industry-recognized certificate or diploma. For the 2017-2018 academic year, awardees could choose from over 80 programs in qualifying areas, which were as follows:

  • Health care
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Transportation/logistics
  • Business services/IT
  • Construction

To be eligible, you must complete the FAFSA and the WRKS application. Funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis by WRKS application date. The maximum amount of the award won’t exceed the in‐state tuition and fees rate for full‐time enrollment at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. This amount  was $4,080 during 2017‐2018. You must earn a GPA of 2.0 or higher each semester during eligibility. Your award will expire after four academic terms or receipt of your first associate’s degree.

18. The University of Washington’s Husky Promise

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Created in 2007, the Husky Promise was covering tuition for almost 10,000 UW students by the 2013-14 academic year.

Points: 6

The Husky Promise scholarship program at the University of Washington guarantees coverage of full tuition and standard fees for eligible students (including the UW technology fee and student activity fees). If the university’s tuition increases, the Promise awards will rise to match and meet your calculated financial need after the Pell and State Need grants. UW students can use this award at any of the three UW campuses: Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma. This award does not cover summer terms or international study program, course, lab and equipment fees.

Incoming freshmen, current and transfer students may apply and receive the award for up to 12 quarters if they meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a Washington state resident admitted full-time to UW
  • Submit FAFSA and meet all eligibility criteria for the Pell Grant or State Need Grant Programs
  • Be pursuing a first bachelor’s degree and maintain satisfactory academic progress while at the UW
  • Make “satisfactory academic progress” – standards based on federal, state and institutional requirements
  • Complete 36 credits for full-time aid received in the autumn through spring quarters
  • Finish your program within a maximum time frame, which cannot exceed 225 attempted credits
  • Maintain a minimum GPA as established by the University (typically a 2.0 cumulative GPA per quarter)

17. Mississippi State Promise Program

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Since it was created in 2006, the Mississippi State Promise Program has helped hundreds of students attend college for free.

Points: 7

The Mississippi State Promise Program is not included in the College Promise Campaign database. Regardless, it is an active statewide college scholarship designed to help entering freshmen attend and community college students transfer to Mississippi State University. The last-dollar funds awarded through this program are meant to “bridge the gap” between the cost of tuition and all other gift aid. For  students whose family income is $32,000 or less, the amount of their awards will “be the student’s base amount of tuition for fall and/or spring semesters (as assessed to all full-time, undergraduate Mississippi resident students).” It cannot exceed the total cost of attendance. As an added bonus, the MSU Learning Center provides Promise recipients with the following:

  • Academic counseling
  • Course-progress monitoring
  • Networking opportunities
  • Support in the form of two required three-hour credit courses
  • Group meetings with guest speakers
  • A Promise Student Support Program coordinator
  • A faculty mentor (by request) through the Division of Student Affairs’ Mentoring Program

Entering freshmen who maintain eligibility can receive this award for a total of five years. Community college transfers can remain eligible for three years. Other eligibility requirements, aside from state residency, include:

  • Full-time admission into a first baccalaureate degree program
  • A 3.0 high school GPA and an official composite ACT score of 19 or higher for entering freshmen
  • A 2.50 GPA for a community college transfer student who already has a minimum of 48 eligible transfer hours
  • Complete the FAFSA, and be Pell Grant eligible
  • Complete the MSU admission and scholarship process by the priority date
  • Maintain full-time enrollment and a minimum 2.50 MSU GPA

16. California College Promise Grant

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According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, “Nearly half of the 2.1 million students enrolled at California community college campuses receive free tuition through the California College Promise Grant.”

Points: 7

The College Promise Campaign’s database listed the California College Promise Grant as being in the proposal stage, but this scholarship for California residents is very much active. Formerly known as the Board of Governors Fee Waiver Program, the promise scholarship is a first-dollar plan. This means the state will cover tuition costs first, regardless of what other financial aid its awardees receive. Students can then put any other grants and scholarships toward textbooks, transportation and other direct costs of college. This scholarship accepts applicants of all ages and academic merit (as long as you achieve at least a 2.0 GPA).

This scholarship does not, however, cover full or varying levels of tuition at California’s community colleges. Instead, it waives the per unit enrollment fee of $46/unit for the academic year and summer term. There is no limit when it comes to the number of units it’ll cover. California residents can apply via the FAFSA. Undocumented students can apply through the California Dream Act. Applicants must fall into the qualifying income bracket, but recipients may use their grants to pay fees at more than one college or center.

15. New York’s Excelsior Scholarship

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The introduction of New York State’s Excelsior Scholarship free tuition program is said to have inspired other states to introduce and fund their own scholarships for college.

Points: 7

In 2017, New York pleasantly surprised the nation when it introduced its Excelsior Scholarship, the country’s first tuition-free college program for middle class families. This last-dollar program will cover tuition expenses remaining after other student financial aid awards up to $5,500 at any City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY). Even more, a tuition credit will cover any remaining tuition expenses not covered by this scholarship.

Starting in 2019, this scholarship will have a family income cap at $125,000. Applicants and recipients are required to complete the FAFSA and TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) application each of the four years they’re eligible. Completion of forms is five years if they are in an opportunity program. One stipulation that can be confusing to awardees is the fact that degree recipients are required to remain living in New York State for the number of years that they accepted their awards. Otherwise, the scholarship will turn into a no-interest 10-year loan that can be repaid early without penalty. For example, if you move out of the state three years after accepting four years of the scholarship, you will have to pay for that fourth year. Additionally, students who fail to maintain a full-time status will owe for that semester.

Other eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen; be a resident of NYS and have resided in NYS for 12 continuous months prior to the beginning of the term
  • Have graduated from high school or earned a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Be enrolled in at least 12 credits per term and complete at least 30 credits each year (successively), all of which should be applicable to a degree program
  • Be in a non-default status on a student loan made under any NYS or federal education loan program or on the repayment of any NYS award
  • Execute a Contract agreeing to reside in NYS for the length of time the award was received, and, if employed during such time, be employed in NYS

14. Missouri’s A+ Scholarship

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According to College Promise, Missouri’s A+ Scholarship program has been around since 1993.

Points: 8

Students who have attended any A+ designated high school for three years prior to graduation can apply for Missouri’s A+ Scholarship. This last-dollar program will reimburse students’ tuition and general fees after all non-loan federal assistance for up to four semesters. This includes any public community college or vocational/technical school, as well as some private two-year schools. There is a reimbursement cap that can change annually with the tuition rates. During the 2017-18 academic year, the maximum rate was $166.00 per credit hour or $4.50 per clock-hour. If you earn your certificate before the end of your eligibility, the scholarship will continue to pay for coursework that is part of a higher level certificate or degree program if it’s related to your first one.

This college scholarship is available to recent high school graduates, as well as first-time students, both of which are required to enroll full-time. For high school students, eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Enter into a written agreement with your high school before graduation
  • Attend a designated A+ high school for 3 years immediately prior to graduation
  • Graduate with an overall grade point average of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • Have at least a 95 percent attendance record overall for grades 9-12
  • Perform at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring; up to 25 percent of this may include job shadowing before graduation
  • Maintain a record of good citizenship and avoid the unlawful use of drugs and/or alcohol while in grades 9-12
  • Achieve a score of proficient or advanced on the Algebra I end of course exam or a higher level DESE approved end-of-course exam in the field of mathematics

If you’re applying as a non-traditional first-time college student, you must:

  • Enroll and attend full-time at a participating school. Students who have a disability as defined by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and are unable to enroll full time because of their disability but are enrolled in at least six credit hours may be considered to be enrolled full time.
  • Be seeking a degree or certificate at the school in which you are enrolled; and it must not be in theology or divinity
  • Not have a criminal record preventing receipt of federal Title IV student financial aid
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the FAFSA4caster
  • Achieve at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point on a 4.0 scale at the end of the fall semester. This can be at the end of the initial payment period for non-semester- based programs; and otherwise maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school
  • Complete 12 semester credit hours or the equivalent (6 hours during the summer term) each term in which you receive an A+ award

13. Rhode Island Promise

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An earlier version of the Rhode Island Promise program also covered the junior and senior years of college at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. For now, however, it’s only good for free community college.

Points: 9

The Rhode Island Promise is a first-dollar scholarship that covers the cost of two years at the Community College of Rhode Island after federal grants. You must enroll at CCRI the semester immediately after graduating high school or receiving your GED if you’re younger than 19.Your family income doesn’t matter. Non-citizen Rhode Island residents are also eligible.

This community college scholarship is for full-time students (30 credits per year) who can maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher. You only have to complete the FAFSA once to keep the award. The program may occasionally have enough funds to cover summer semesters. However, it may not be used for certificate or noncredit programs. Students who accept these funds are asked to commit to remain living in the state after college, but they don’t face penalties if they leave.

12. Delaware SEED Scholarship

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The Delaware SEED Scholarship will pay full tuition for an associate’s degree, but it will not pay for repeated courses.

Points: 9

Delaware SEED Scholarship is the second statewide scholarship that Delaware offers its student residents. As Delaware Technical Community College puts it, “If you attend a Delaware high school, keep your grades up and stay out of trouble, you can go to Delaware Tech tuition-free.” Books and course fees are not covered. SEED will also cover tuition for full-time students enrolled in an associate’s degree program at the University of Delaware. This scholarship for high school students requires Delaware residents (including undocumented students) to graduate with a 2.5 GPA. They must enroll into their college program immediately after graduation.

Students can continue receiving the award for a total of six continuous semesters, not including summer. They can be part- or full-time students. The award will also end once they complete their associate’s. To remain eligible, students must:

  • Not have been or become convicted of any felony
  • Apply for FAFSA annually
  • Make steady academic progress toward an associate’s degree
  • Maintain continuous enrollment for both the fall and spring semesters in each successive academic year, unless granted an exception

11. Tennessee Promise Program

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Every student within the Tennessee Promise Program receives a volunteer mentor from tnAchieves to ensure a successful academic career.

Points: 10

The Tennessee Promise Program pays two years of tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship or other state student assistance funds. Recipients can use their awards at any of Tennessee’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology or other eligible associate degree programs. The funding will last for five consecutive full-time semesters at a community college, eight consecutive trimesters at a TCAT (also full-time) or until graduation. This scholarship is specifically for recent high school graduates. They must apply to and enroll in an eligible institution in the fall semester following graduation or completion of GED/HiSET program.

To maintain the scholarship, you must fill out the FAFSA annually and earn a 2.0 GPA. Dubbed “both a scholarship and mentoring program,” Tennessee Promise partners with tnAchieves to offer mentor guidance and a free Summer Bridge Program. This is a three-week program that prepares incoming students and allows them a chance to test out of learning support courses at their chosen college. tnAchieves also monitors the eight-hour-per-term community service requirement, which is necessary to continue receiving the scholarship.

10. Indiana Workforce Ready Grant

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Adult students are eligible to apply for the Indiana Workforce Ready Grant to earn a high-value certificate.

Points: 11

The Indiana Workforce Ready Grant is one of the few statewide College Promise programs that includes nontraditional students among its eligible applicants. This scholarship program pays the tuition and mandatory fees for up to two years of a qualifying program at Ivy Tech Community College, Vincennes University or an approved workforce training provider.

The list of qualifying programs targets high-value certificate programs, selected based on factors like employer demand and wages. These programs come from the five sectors that align with Indiana’s economy:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Building & Construction
  • Health Sciences
  • Information Technology & Business Technology
  • Transportation & Logistics

These rapidly growing industries are said to have higher median salaried jobs.

Eligibility requirements for this grant include:

  • Be an Indiana resident and a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Have graduated high school or received a high school equivalency diploma/GED
  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Not have previously received a bachelor’s or an associate degree
  • Enroll full-time (12+ credit hours) if you are a Dependent Student for federal financial aid purposes; or enroll half-time (typically 6-11 credit hours) if you are an Independent Student for federal financial aid purposes
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Meet any other minimum criteria established by the Commission

9. Hawai’i Promise

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In 2017, about 1,500 students benefited from Hawai’i Promise scholarships.

Points: 12

State leaders established the Hawai’i Promise scholarship program in 2017 to provide free in-state tuition at the statewide University of Hawai’i Community Colleges. New legislation adds $700,000 for these scholarships for the upcoming school year. This is a last-dollar program, covering need left unmet by other forms of financial aid. Unlike other college scholarships on this list, the Hawai’i Promise “direct cost” coverage includes books, supplies and transportation.

This community college scholarship also does not have an age limit! Recipients are also only required to be enrolled in six credits per semester. The average award per student in 2017 was $1,416. The program has a long-term goal of garnering the funds to expand the scholarship to all undergraduate student residents in the state. To be eligible, students are required to

  • Qualify for Hawai’i resident tuition
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Be degree-seeking in a financial aid eligible program
  • Not possess a bachelor’s degree
  • Meet Hawai‘i CC’s Satisfactory Academic Progress policy
  • Accept all federal and state grants, scholarships and any other funding sources that do not require repayment

8. Minnesota’s MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program

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Minnesota’s MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program includes one-on-one mentoring to help students complete their programs and land a job.

Points: 13

In 2015, Minnesota began offering its MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program. It covers the tuition costs left over after your Federal Pell Grant and MN State Grant have been applied. This grant is available to students for up to 72 semester credits toward a qualifying career or technical program at MnSCU two-year colleges. The awards can range from $2,500 to $5,000. They can include internship opportunities at MHTA member companies. Qualifying programs include associate’s degrees, diplomas and certificates in a wide variety of career fields such as the following:

  • accounting
  • business management
  • carpentry
  • computer information systems
  • law enforcement
  • early childhood education
  • fashion management
  • nursing
  • multimedia and game programming
  • welding
  • athletic coaching and more

Eligible students must enroll in one of these programs immediately after earning a high school diploma or equivalent within the state and have an adjusted gross income (or wages for non-filers) of $90,000 or less. Undocumented students can apply using the MN Dream Act state financial aid application. Otherwise, you can apply through the FAFSA. An added bonus: recipients must complete mentoring throughout their academic programs to work on skills like:

-setting goals

-managing time and priorities

-navigating finances

-improving study habits.

Because this is a pilot program, it’s not guaranteed to be renewed for the 2018-19 academic year, but according to the Duluth News Tribune, “a $1 million appropriation in fiscal year 2019 and $500,000 for 2020 is due to be allocated toward ‘workforce development grants.’”

7. Louisiana TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students)

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The Louisiana TOPS  covers university tuition for about 50,000 Louisiana residents each year.

Points: 14

Louisiana TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) is the highest-scoring first-dollar scholarship program on this list. Eligible recipients can go to any of the Louisiana public colleges or universities tuition-free for up to eight semesters or 12 quarters. The award amounts vary depending on the institution and because this program offers four different scholarships, each with specific requirements. All four require completion of certain courses in high school, and the required GPA is computed based on the TOPS core curriculum, not the applicant’s overall high school GPA. The breakdown is as follows:

  • TOPS Opportunity Award: This scholarship pays the institution-specific award if the student earned a minimum GPA of 2.50 and a minimum ACT Score (or SAT Equivalent) of the prior year state average.
  • TOPS Performance Award: If you earn a minimum GPA of 3.00 and a minimum ACT Score (or SAT Equivalent) of 23, you’ll receive the institution-specific award, plus an annual stipend of $400.
  • TOPS Honors Award: Those who earn a minimum GPA of 3.00 and a minimum ACT Score (or SAT Equivalent) of 27 will receive an annual stipend of $800 in addition to the institution-specific award.
  • TOPS Tech Award: The Tech Award requires its own 21-unit TOPS Tech JumpStart Core Curriculum. Or you can still be eligible by completing the 19-unit TOPS core curriculum required by the other three scholarships. You must earn a minimum GPA of 2.50 and minimum ACT Score (or SAT Equivalent) of 17. This award amount differs by the type of school attended.

For all four of these programs, you can apply through the FAFSA and have up to the first regular semester or quarter one year post high school graduation to enroll in your college. You must enroll full-time, earning 24 credit hours during the academic year. The winter terms are included in the coverage. Summer terms will only be covered if the funding is available and it’s required for graduation. If your award isn’t exhausted once you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree, you’re able to use what’s left toward a graduate or professional program. Check out the TOPS pages on the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance website. It contains more information, a student hub and an informational text assistance program.

6. Arkansas Future Grant (ArFuture)

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The Arkansas Future Grant is more than just free money! It also promises mentoring and community service experience to every recipient.

Points: 14

One of the newest state grant programs is the Arkansas Future Grant (ArFuture). This college scholarship is directed toward students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) or regional high demand areas of study. It’s available on a first-come, first-serve basis. ArFuture covers tuition and fees for certificates and associate degree programs at approved public institutions. If you choose one of the approved programs at a four-year college or university, your award amount will only reflect a calculated average cost of tuition, fees and other charges at approved two-year institutions.

This grant bears a few other stipulations. Recipients must pledge to receive monthly mentoring determined by the Department of Higher Education, and to complete at least 15 hours of community service each semester the student receives a grant. After earning the degree or certificate, you’re required to find employment within six months and reside in Arkansas for three consecutive years. If you don’t, the grant will convert into a loan at an interest rate and term determined by the Department.

Eligibility to receive this grant funding lasts until you’ve earned an associate’s degree or have received the funding for five semesters. You’re eligible to apply if you’re a recent high school graduate within the state, or if you’ve lived in the state for three years immediately preceding application and have recently earned a high school equivalency diploma approved by another state.

5. Oregon Promise

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Although the Oregon Promise offers last-dollar coverage, it also uses a “middle-dollar” approach, guaranteeing at least $1,000 of support to all students, regardless of whether they have other grant aid that covers their tuition.

Points: 15

The Oregon Promise is administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission Office of Student Access and Completion. This state grant aims to cover “most tuition costs” at any Oregon community college. Awards range from $1,000 to $3,540 per year for full-time students. Part-time students can receive half of the award. This tuition assistance grant is limited to recent high school graduates. They must plan to attend a community college at least part-time within six months of graduation or GED completion.

The award amounts vary, depending on a per-term copay, other grant award amounts, number of credits taken and the individual community college’s tuition costs. Recipients can use their award money during winter terms, but not summer. You can take up to 12 credits per term, and your eligibility ends when you’ve earned 90 credits. DACA students and those who receive an Adult High School Diploma are eligible to apply. Plus, transferring between Oregon community colleges before earning the 90 credits will not end your eligibility.

While the program had an income cutoff for the 2017-18 academic year, there is no Expected Family Contribution (EFC) limit for 2018-19. This is subject to change based on available funding. Other eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Complete an Oregon Promise Grant Application by the appropriate deadline
  • File a FAFSA or ORSAA application and list at least one Oregon community college
  • Be a recent Oregon high school graduate or GED recipient
  • Document a 2.5 cumulative high school GPA or higher; or a GED score of 145 or higher on each test (unweighted)
  • Plan to attend at least half-time an Oregon community college within 6 months of high school graduation or GED completion
  • Be an Oregon resident for at least 12 months prior to college attendance
  • Must not have more than 90 college credits completed or attempted

4. Oklahoma’s Promise

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In 2007, Oklahoma passed major legislation that created a dedicated funding process for Oklahoma’s Promise, allowing this college scholarship to be funded “off the top” from the state’s annual General Revenue Fund.

Points: 16

Eighth, ninth and 10th grade students in Oklahoma (or homeschoolers aged 13, 14 or 15) can apply to Oklahoma’s Promise if the federal adjusted gross income of their families does not exceed $55,000 per year.  This rises to $100,000 once you start receiving the award. This last-dollar “cash” scholarship program can cover up to five years of college tuition costs at eligible public colleges and universities for the actual number of semester credit hours you take.

While it doesn’t cover fees, the award amounts vary to cover your specific school’s cost. If you already have a tuition waiver or another tuition-specific scholarship, Oklahoma’s Promise can be applied elsewhere in your total cost of attendance. If you plan to go to a private college or public technology center supervised by the Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education, the award will pay a portion of tuition. Recipients can use their awards during summer and intersession terms, and while gap years count toward the total five years, they are ok. While full-time student status isn’t required, the five-year award expiration is not extended for part-time students.

Further eligibility stipulations for this college scholarship require students to

  • Meet academic and conduct requirements in high school
  • Complete 17 total required class units in a variety of subjects during high school
  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Let the college or university know that you are an Oklahoma’s Promise student
  • Start taking postsecondary courses within three years of high school graduation
  • Continue to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements set by the college through the duration of the award
  • Take no more course credits than the cap, a limit set by the State Regents

3. The Hathaway Scholarship in Wyoming

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Thanks to the Hathaway Scholarship program, Wyoming is one of the only states in the country where every student is eligible for a college scholarship starting in 6th grade.

Points: 17

Every Wyoming middle and high school student is automatically eligible for the Hathaway Scholarship. In 2005, state lawmakers created a fund with a $400 million permanent endowment for four separate merit scholarships. There’s also a need-based scholarship that covers most or some tuition and fees. Recipients earn varied awards for up to eight full-time semesters at the University of Wyoming or any community college in the state. The different scholarships are as follows:

  • Honors: Students with a 3.5 high school GPA, ACT score of 25 and who have completed specific course requirements before graduating high school can receive an award of $1,680.
  • Performance: Those with a 3.0 high school GPA, ACT score of 21 and who have completed required coursework before graduation can receive an award of $1,260.
  • Opportunity: Aside from foreign language, this scholarship has the same course requirements as the Honors and Performance awards. However, students are only required to earn a GPA of 2.5 and ACT score of 19 to receive an award of $840.
  • Provisional: This award amount is also $840, but it can only be used for a maximum of four semesters, not eight. To be eligible, students must meet current high school graduation requirements, graduate with a 2.5 GPA and earn a 17 on the ACT or a 12 on WorkKeys.
  • Need-Based: Students must complete the FAFSA to apply for this award.

You have up to two years after high school graduation to initiate your Hathaway Scholarship. You must stay enrolled with at least six or 12 college credits every fall and spring to continue receiving the award. All recipients must actively seek a degree or certificate. They can use any remaining award eligibility toward graduate-level courses at UW. Awardees are able to use the funds during a summer semester as long as they also attend that fall and spring. Finally, the Honors and Performance levels require students to take two sequenced years of foreign language.

2. The Academic Challenge Scholarship in Arkansas

college scholarships for women arkansas state
While Arkansas’ Academic Challenge Scholarship for college doesn’t cover full tuition, it awards money to eligible students regardless of other financial aid they may receive.

Points: 18

Funded mostly by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, the Academic Challenge Scholarship program is a first-dollar program. This means that if you’re eligible, you’ll receive a fixed award amount, despite any other financial aid you may qualify for. For the first year, the award is $1,000; the second and third year awards are $4,000 each; and the fourth year award is $5,000. Recipients at two-year colleges earn $1,000 for the first year and $3,000 for the second. You can use this money at any eligible college/university to earn a baccalaureate degree, an associate’s degree, a qualified certificate or a nursing school diploma. As of 2016, awardees will be renewed until the student attempts a total of 120 semester hours, receives eight semesters of funding or completes a baccalaureate degree, whichever comes first.

This program is awesome because your academic status doesn’t matter! Whether you’re about to graduate from high school, currently enrolled in college, enrolling in college for the first time, or re-enrolling at a college, you’re eligible. It also covers part-time college students, as long as you’re enrolled in at least six credits per semester. The GPA required to maintain eligibility is 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Students who haven’t already completed some college are expected to earn a 19 on the ACT or ACT equivalent score (990 on SAT).

This college scholarship program comes with a unique stipulation. Applicants must agree that for each year the scholarship is awarded, they will volunteer to serve as a literacy tutor for at least 20 clock hours per semester. You will tutor students in prekindergarten through sixth grade in a public school or a faith-based educational institution. Other eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Be an Arkansas resident at least 12 months prior to enrollment and U.S. citizen/lawful permanent resident
  • Not have earned a baccalaureate degree
  • Complete the FAFSA (but don’t worry, there’s no income cap!)
  • Not owe a refund on a federal or state student financial aid grant for higher education
  • Not be in default on a federal or state student financial aid loan for higher education
  • Not be incarcerated at the time of application for or during the time the applicant receives the scholarship
  • Complied with the United States Selective Service System requirements for registration
  • Certify to be drug free
  • Be continuously enrolled unless student request for scholarship to be placed on hold (Maximum hold of four semesters)

1. Washington’s College Bound Scholarship

washington state university scholarships for college
By offering it early on, Washington State’s College Bound Scholarship program greatly increases high school graduation and college enrollment rates for low-income students.

Points: 19

In 2007, the State of Washington began offering its College Bound Scholarship. It covers four years of tuition, some fees and a small book allowance at participating colleges and universities. The program offers a list of eligible institutions where you can use the scholarship, including :

-public four-year research universities like Washington State

-public four-year comprehensive universities

-independent/private four-year colleges

-private career colleges

-community and technical colleges.

The College Bound scholarship award will differ at each school and for each student, depending on your amount of need, which is determined by the FAFSA.

Administered by the Washington Student Achievement Council, this scholarship program is great in that it

  • Is accessible for undocumented students
  • Allows a timeline of five years after high school graduation
  • Allows for a gap semester within those five years
  • Has a forgiving 2.0 GPA merit requirement
  • Manages a listserv for high school students and their families to improve accessibility and keep applicants on track to receive the funding
  • Can be used for summer, winter and study abroad semesters
  • Accepts part-time college students with adjusted award amounts, down to 3- to 5-credit enrollment

This program does come with an income cap among its eligibility requirements. Household income should be less than or equal to $30,044-$76,442+, depending on the number of members in the household. Finally, the “College Bound” title means that this scholarship program is geared toward targeting younger students early on and encouraging them to continue their education. To earn the award, you must apply in the 7th and 8th grades, and you must enroll and earn college credit(s) by the fall term within one academic year after high school graduation.