Wisconsin is promising eighth graders a place in college — and loans, grants and work-study jobs to pay for it — if they earn a B- (2.85) average in high school, take college-prep courses, obey the law and perform community service. Students who keep the Wisconsin Covenant are guaranteed a spot in one of the state’s public or private universities or technical colleges.
It’s not clear what the program will cost. The $10 million a year estimate sounds low, though the guarantee is “only to maximize need-based financial aid already available,” not to pay all costs, AP reports.
(Elise) Montesinos, 14, said she wants to attend the state’s flagship university in Madison and study to become a dentist or an orthodontist.
“I just really like the idea because I know I don’t have to worry about getting into college as long as I meet the expectations, which should be easy to do,” she said.
Easy? Let’s hope they’re not too easy to prepare students to succeed in college, not just take remedial classes.
Several states are trying to get low- and moderate-income students to plan for college.
– Oklahoma’s Promise: Students in eighth, ninth or 10th grades whose parents earn less than $50,000 per year can sign up. If they take certain courses, earn a 2.5 grade-point average and stay out of trouble, the state will pay for their tuition at a four-year public university or a two-year college.
– Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program: Low-income students pledge as seventh- and eighth-graders to earn a 2.0 GPA and stay out of trouble. The state guarantees them a scholarship in the amount of four years of tuition and fees at a public university. A family of four with an income of $37,000 or less would qualify.
Many low-income students say they think college is out of reach for them. They need to know otherwise before they reach high school. But the successful scholarship programs for low-income students, such as “I Have a Dream,” include extensive counseling, mentoring and tutoring to keep students on the college track. Those that skimp on the ongoing support lose most of their students.