Graduation at Crosby High School in Waterbury. file photo

Connecticut high school students in the Class of 2020 have a chance to apply for national College Board Opportunity Scholarships that offer grants ranging from $200 to as much as $40,000.

In addition, Gov. Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell have teamed up with the College Board to launch a supplemental pool of scholarship funds — $40,000 each year from the College Board —  that will be available to students from lower-income families.

The Opportunity Scholarships program enables students who take any of six college-preparatory steps such as building a college list or practicing for the SAT to become eligible for random drawings for scholarships ranging from $200 to $2,000.

If a students takes all six steps then he or she is eligible to enter the drawing for the $40,000.

The College Board has committed $25 million over five years to the new national program.

Any student can apply for the program regardless of income, but the College Board has said that more than half the funds will go to students with families with annual income of less than $60,000.

Priscilla Rodriguez, executive director of scholarships strategy at the College Board, said the six action steps necessary to apply for the $40,000 scholarship are “critical steps that many students, especially low-income students, don’t pursue, limiting their college prospects. Through [the Connecticut State Department of Education’s] leadership, more students in Connecticut will know about and take these crucial steps.”

Wentzell said the state education agency has been “committed to outreach efforts to engage and encourage more students to participate in rigorous coursework while increasing their access to college-level material and college-entrance exams, especially for students of color and those from low-income families. We are starting to see our collective work pay off with steady increases in college and career readiness for all student groups for the second year in a row.”

Lamont said the scholarships “offer a great opportunity for high school students who are pursuing higher education and struggling with the growing costs of college.”

College board officials emphasize that unlike other scholarship programs, the Opportunity Scholarships don’t require an essay or an application and do not have a minimum grade point average or SAT requirement.

Rather the program rewards students with random monthly drawings for scholarships for each step they take along the path to college. So for building a college list, a student can enter a random monthly drawing for a $500 scholarship; for  practicing the SAT, the amount is $1,000;  for improving your score, the amount is $2,000; for completing the federal financial aid form (FAFSA), it’s $1,000; and for applying to colleges, it’s $1,000.

If a students completes all six steps, he or she is eligible for a chance at the $40,000 scholarship.

More information is available on the College Board website, here.

YouTube video

Kathleen Megan wrote for more than three decades for the Hartford Courant, covering education in recent years and winning many regional and national awards. She is now covering education and child welfare issues for the Mirror.

Leave a comment