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New Scholarship Rewards Completing Road-to-College Steps

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Most scholarships are given to students in recognition of accomplishments such as good high school grades. But a new $25 million scholarship, announced Thursday, will reward students simply for taking steps to get ready for college.

The program, designed and run by the College Board, outlines six steps it considers key in the college process. Completion of each step enters students into a monthly lottery to win a scholarship tied to that step. Finishing all six puts a student in the running for one of 25 "completion scholarships" worth $40,000 in the spring of 12th grade.

The organization, which makes the SAT, will give out $25 million in scholarships over the next five years. Half of the money will be reserved for students from families with annual incomes of $60,000 or less. The program will open in December, for the graduating class of 2020.

College Board officials said that the scholarships are open to all students, since there are no minimum grade or score requirements, and no essay is required.

But thousands of students, such as those who take only the ACT, would be ineligible for two of the six steps—and thus the big $40,000 scholarship—since they require actions that pertain only to the SAT. To be eligible for money linked to any of the six steps, students must register for the scholarship on the College Board's website.

Here are the six steps in the "College Board Opportunity Scholarships," with the amount of money students qualify for by completing them:

  • Exploring colleges of interest and building a list on the College Board's website (600 scholarships of $500 each)
  • Practicing for the SAT with the College Board's own online practice program (1,500 scholarships of $1,000 each)
  • Improving SAT scores (150 scholarships of $2,000 each)
  • Refining college lists by including a mix of "safety," "fit" and "reach" schools (400 scholarships of $500 each)
  • Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA (800 scholarships of $1,000 each)
  • Applying to colleges (500 scholarships of $1,000 each)

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