Micro-Scholarships Lower College Costs

Earn Scholarship Money for Doing Well in School
by Jodi Okun

Most parents and high school students know about the benefits of applying for scholarships. If a student qualifies, this “free” money can be used to lower the family’s out-of-pocket costs. The problem is that many available scholarships can be quite competitive, have limited qualification standards, or they may entail a difficult application process. It can be frustrating to go through all the work of applying or writing an essay, only to be turned down for a scholarship. Now, a relatively new idea is making it easier for high school students to earn scholarship money for doing the very same things they would otherwise be doing.

Conceived as a way of rewarding students, Raise.me is harnessing the power of micro scholarships to make college more accessible to everyone. Because it is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and Facebook’s charitable giving, Raise.me is attracting the attention of a growing list of colleges that include Tulane, Oberlin, University of Delaware, DePaul University, University of Rochester, Denison and University of Tampa, with another 100 already in the process of joining. Students who choose to attend one of the colleges enrolled in the program can earn guaranteed scholarships by simply recording their AP and Honors courses, participating in extra-curricular activities, and performing community service.

Students can start earning scholarship money as early as 9th grade or as late as the first semester of their senior year, so this year’s juniors should enroll as soon as possible. Students can also enter information from previous years of high school if they register as a junior or senior. Once registered, the process to earn money is very straight-forward:

  • Add Achievements as You Go: Check out the list of goals that are recommended by the colleges. Then record your grades, attendance, leadership roles, outside activities, and participation in sports or school clubs in an online portfolio to start earning money. Be truthful with the process as a college may check the submissions against your application, or ask to have the portfolio endorsed by someone at your school. False reports may mean the loss of any micro-scholarship dollars that have accumulated, and may affect the student’s chance of admission into the various program colleges. 
  • Watch Your Balance Grow: Each time a student earns money it is reflected in his or her raise.me account. You’ll get more excited about the possibility of attending college as you watch the money in your account grow.
  • Cash In: As you are applying to colleges during your senior year, you must submit your portfolio prior to the college’s application deadline. Once you’ve been accepted at, and made plans to attend, the money will automatically be included in your financial aid package.

For example, the site shows that a student might be able to earn $600 for receiving a B in English, earn $400 for actively volunteering in the community, or $1000 for achieving an A in AP English. Currently, more than 21,000 high school students from all over the United States are registered on Raise.me.

The site also has information on the participating colleges so students can get a head-start on learning about them, which could make the final decision much less complicated. This approach is an easier way of earning money for college, and also helps get students interested much earlier in their high school career. It rewards achievements along the way and keeps students focused on the bigger prize of attending college.

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