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Staff invests time and in partnerships to enroll over 9 percent of cohort 2023 Marion County scholars

October 16, 2019 – INDIANAPOLIS – In its first year as a program, Indy Achieves enrolled over 9 percent of the total Marion County students enrolled in 21st Century Scholars. With a total enrollment of over 4100 Marion County 8th grade students following the 2018-2019 school year, this resulted in a five percentage point county-wide increase in the rate of eligible students enrolling in the program from the previous 8th grade cohort.It would not have been possible to reach this number without the assistance and support of partners and local educators, parents, and counselors.

“Our workforce needs an additional 215,000 individuals with a postsecondary degree or credential in order to meet employer demand,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Initiatives like Indy Achieves and programs like 21st Century Scholars break down financial barriers for students who may not have had the opportunity to go to college – providing them the skills they need to secure good paying jobs that are currently going unfilled in Marion County.”

21st Century Scholars is the state’s early college promise program and is administered by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Students must register in 7th or 8th grade to be eligible to receive up to four years of paid tuition to a participating Indiana college or university as they pursue their postsecondary career. To remain eligible for 21st Century Scholars, students must complete a variety of Scholar Success Program requirements and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the April 15 deadline.

The Indy Achieves staff has impacted the enrollment in Marion County 21st Century Scholars by spending countless hours assisting families in finalizing their applications, attending school events, strategizing new marketing techniques, meeting with schools and counselors, and streamlining application processes, among other activities to encourage and connect with the local community. Indy Achieves will again this school year be working with partners like the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to enroll Marion County Students. 

“For the 2019-2020 school year, we are on pace to more than double the number from last year that Indy Achieves enrolls in 21st Century Scholars,” said Esther Gamble, EmployIndy’s Manager of Student Progress for Indy Achieves. “This is a testament to our involvement with the schools and communities and we are excited to grow these partnerships as we work together to open doors for young people to persist in postsecondary education.”

It’s not too early in 7th and 8th grade to be planning for life after high school. The 21st Century Scholars program is designed for students to aspire to higher learning and have the understanding that no matter their socioeconomic status, they have the opportunity to pursue education and training beyond high school. The 21st Century Scholars application is free and takes less than five minutes to complete.

“Indy Achieves has been an integral partner in the enrollment of 21st Century Scholars in Marion County. As we embark on the 30th anniversary of the 21st Century Scholars program next year, this and other community partnerships will continue to make a vital impact on the work being done at the local level to ensure Scholars are ready for college and successful in their pursuit of education beyond high school,” says Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers.

Throughout the county there are educators and counselors working to register their eligible 7th and 8th grade students in 21st Century Scholars. One of the larger schools in the district, Northview Middle School, is setting the bar high for other locations as they utilize an internal process to enroll students.

“Enrolling students in 21st Century Scholars is something that is a part of the community and culture of our school. It involves a comprehensive plan that starts in September each year and doesn’t wrap up until the last day of school,” said Jen Dodson, Professional School Counselor at Northview Middle School. “It is a big job but one that is incredibly important as it helps us break down barriers that exist between some of our students and their goal of attaining a college degree.”

Marion County educators and families can receive assistance, register and find out more at Statewide applications are available at all middle schools and accepted through the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s ScholarTrack. The application program is for current Indiana 7th and 8th grade students through June 30, 2020.

Mayor Joe Hogsett, EmployIndy encourage parents of 7th and 8th grade students to file before June 30 deadline

June 24, 2019 – The deadline for 21st Century Scholars is only six days away and there are still many eligible 8th grade students that can sign up for a full tuition scholarship to Indiana colleges. One of the main reasons is that many are still unaware of the opportunity for their 7th or 8th grader to receive free college tuition.

“As a community, we leave a significant amount of money on the table every year – money that could provide an education and a path to a promising future,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “That is why it is so important for Marion County residents to apply for 21st Century Scholars before the June 30th deadline, to make sure all available resources make it into the hands of our students and families who need it most.”

Led by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the 21st Century Scholars program provides income-eligible Hoosier students up to four years of college tuition at any participating college or university in Indiana. A crucial part of the process is that the application must be completed by June 30th of a student’s 8th grade year, which can sneak up on families currently focused on the transition to high school. In recent years, only about half of eligible Marion County students have enrolled.

Indy Achieves, an initiative launched by Mayor Joe Hogsett and housed at EmployIndy, is pursuing many avenues to make it easy for individuals to apply and boost enrollment rates, such as:

  •      Implementing a mobile application process;
  •      Working with families one-on-one to file and submit their applications;
  •      Attending school functions to inform individuals about 21st Century Scholars; and
  •      Partnering with community organizations to spread the word

In about five minutes, parents are able to file an application for their student to go to an Indiana college tuition free, removing a financial burden that can takes years post-graduation to pay back.   

The application is a one-sheet, front and back document that makes a difference in a child’s life forever and time is running out for all Indiana 8th graders to submit their information. Once the deadline passes, rising high school freshman who have not applied will no longer have the opportunity to receive free college tuition through the 21st Century Scholars program.

Learn more and access the application at