SDL scholars offered $1.5 million
Qualified GEAR UP participants now in middle school will be eligible for college aid SDL scholars offered $1.5 million BY BRIAN WALLACE, Staff Writer
School District of Lancaster is encouraging all of its seventh- and eighth-grade students to participate in an $8 million federally funded program designed to get them into college.
Called GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), it provides academic assistance, college visits and open houses and seminars on applying for admission and financing a college education.
This is the third time since 1999 SDL has landed a grant under the GEAR UP program, which follows students through their high school years.
But this time, there's a little more incentive for students to participate: more than $1.5 million in scholarship money will await them if they achieve their goal of getting into college.
Any GEAR UP student who is accepted into a college or university will be eligible for a share of that money.
The total is nearly seven times the amount awarded in a previous GEAR UP grant to qualifying students who attended Millersville University. And it's the first time scholarships will be offered to anyone who gets into college, regardless of what school they attend.
There are a couple of caveats. The graduates must be under the age of 22 to receive the funds and enrolled in a school that issues academic degrees, not certificates. And only members of the graduating classes of 2017 and 2018 will be eligible.
The scholarship funds are being managed by Lancaster Education Foundation, which will invest the money in certificates of deposit until current eighth-graders are seniors.
The awards will be distributed equally among the qualifying students; the amount of each award will depend on how many students participate.
About 1,500 pupils at four SDL middle schools are eligible for GEAR UP programs, which began last year. How many of them take part -- the programs are optional -- and go on to enroll in a college or university is difficult to project.
In 2012, about 75 percent of McCaskey High School seniors said they planned to attend a two- or four-year college after graduation, but no numbers are available on how many followed through on those plans.
If 1,000 GEAR UP students qualified, they'd each get about $1,500 -- certainly not a huge amount when college costs can easily exceed $40,000 per year. But it's money they would automatically be eligible for.
Lancaster Education Foundation may leverage those funds with donations from individuals and businesses to provide even more scholarships for McCaskey graduates.
Currently, the foundation awards about $67,000 in scholarships each year.
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