New 21st Century Scholars initiative

Marian University will offer an additional 50 full-tuition scholarships to students in the 21st Century Scholars program for the upcoming school year.

The private Roman Catholic university usually offers 25 such scholarships to each class but is looking to expand that effort as families deal with the harsh economic consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic and a subsequent recession.

Marian University President Daniel Elsener said the heaviest burden is “being heaved onto middle- and lower-income folks.”

Those are the same families who stand to benefit from the state’s 21st Century Scholars program, which offers up to four years of undergraduate tuition at in-state public schools and a comparable amount for private schools.

Marian is raising the extra money required to give students a full-tuition scholarship. Not all 21st Century Scholars students at Marian get their full tuition covered.

Students need to apply to attend Marian and apply for the scholarship. Eligible students should contact the university at 317-955-6000 or admissions@marian.edu. Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Elsener said scholarships could run out as early as the end of May.

The plan is for the scholarships to be good for four years.

“We’re out on a limb, but it’s a good limb,” Elsener said. “That’s where things get done in life.”

Students’ families already need to meet an income requirement in order to enroll in the 21st Century Scholars program, but Marian is opening up the additional 50 scholarships with the intention of finding those students whose families have been heavily impacted by the current economic downturn.

Ken Britt, senior vice president and dean of the Klipsch Educators College, said the school will work with organizations such as Center for Leadership Development and Indianapolis Urban League, as well as individual high schools, to identify those students.

“They made a commitment,” Britt said of scholars. “They followed a pathway from middle school all the way through high school. These are leaders, and these are the ones that we really want to focus on.”

Students qualify for the 21st Century Scholars program based on household income in seventh or eighth grade. The deadline to enroll is June 30 of the student’s eighth grade year.

It’s difficult to get a clear picture of exactly how many Black students are eligible for the program because that data isn’t broken down by race.

According to a 2019 equity report from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, which included data up to the 2017 cohort, 69% of Black high schoolers in the state are considered low-income, the largest percentage among racial groups.

Students and families self-report race on the application for the scholarship in middle school, so race is unknown for 40% of students in the 2022 cohort, according to data provided by the commission.

In that cohort, 12% of scholars are Black. Excluding unknowns, Black students make up 21% of scholars.

The reasons Black students don’t appear to enroll in the program at the rate they could vary from parents who aren’t comfortable sharing personal information to a simple lack of awareness that the program exists.

Indy Achieves, which helps get students signed up, usually goes into schools to encourage students to apply, but it has made its operation virtual since that’s no longer possible.

The organization will instead promote a digital application and is asking the community to help raise awareness about the program before the June 30 deadline.

Families can visit Indy Achieves online or text “college” or “universidad” to 404-58 to begin filing the application in English or Spanish.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

21ST CENTURY SCHOLARS OPPORTUNITIES

Indy Achieves is still helping seventh and eighth graders apply for the state’s 21st Century Scholars program, which offers up to four years of undergraduate tuition at in-state public schools and a comparable amount for private schools. Visit online or text “college” or “universidad” to 404-58 to begin filing the application in English or Spanish.

Marian University will award 50 additional full-tuition scholarships to 21st Century Scholar students. Eligible students should contact the university at 317-955-6000 or admissions@marian.edu.

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