College Board Launches First-of-Its-Kind National Scholarship Program to Guide Students Through College Planning Process

$25 million program lays out six simple steps that all students can take to get to college. Each step will earn a chance for a scholarship; doing all six will earn a chance to win $40,000 for their college education.

New York — The College Board today unveiled a first-of-its-kind national scholarship program that guides high school students through the college planning process and offers them a chance to earn money for their education for each action they complete. Called the College Board Opportunity Scholarships, the not-for-profit membership organization is dedicating $25 million over five years to the new program that lays out six simple steps all students can take to get to college. Completing each step will earn a chance for a scholarship; doing all six steps will earn a chance for $40,000 for their college education.

“We hear from students and families everywhere that getting into college is too complicated and overwhelming. They are hungry for a simple guide. The new College Board Opportunity Scholarships program clarifies the path to college and encourages all students to stay on it,” said College Board CEO David Coleman. “All students can earn one of these scholarships, even students who never dreamt they could.”

Unlike typical scholarship programs, the College Board Opportunity Scholarships program doesn’t require an essay or an application, and it doesn’t have a minimum GPA or SAT score requirement. Rather, it rewards students’ actions on their way to college, making it open to all students. The more actions students take, the more chances they have to earn a scholarship. All students can earn opportunities for scholarships by completing any or all of the following steps:

  • Building a college list: students get started by exploring colleges they’re interested in (600 Build Your College List scholarships each worth $500)
  • Practicing for the SAT: students use Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy (1,500 Practice for the SAT scholarships each worth $1,000)
  • Improving SAT scores: students show how practice pays off by improving their scores (150 Improve Your Score scholarships each worth $2,000)
  • Strengthening their college list: students make sure their list has a mix of academic safety, fit, and reach schools (400 Strengthen Your College List scholarships each worth $500)
  • Completing the FAFSA: students fill out the free government form to apply for financial aid (800 Complete the FAFSA scholarships each worth $1,000)
  • Applying to colleges: students apply to the colleges they want to attend (500 Apply to Colleges scholarships each worth $1,000)

Drawings for the scholarships will take place monthly. Students who complete all six of the actions will be eligible for one of 25 Complete Your Journey scholarships worth $40,000 each.

In building the program, the College Board talked with and surveyed thousands of students and parents across the country, including high school seniors who could look back and reflect on the college planning process.

“When we gathered feedback from seniors, the most haunting words we heard over and over again were, ‘I wish I had known,’said Priscilla Rodriguez, executive director of scholarships strategy at the College Board. “They would tell us, ‘I wish I had known about college lists. I wish I had known about free SAT practice on Khan Academy. I wish I had known about the FAFSA.’ The College Board Opportunity Scholarships are designed explicitly to make sure all students know about these crucial steps.”

Rooted in research, the scholarship program focuses on steps students need to take to make it to college, clarifying the complex college planning process for all students. The six actions in the College Board Opportunity Scholarships are the critical steps many students don’t pursue, limiting their college prospects. This is especially true for low-income and first-generation students.

Said Nicole Hurd, College Advising Corps founder and CEO: “The best investment students can make is to continue their education beyond high school, yet the college application and financial aid processes are daunting. The College Board Opportunity Scholarships will lift up the work of organizations like the College Advising Corps who serve low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students, as well as school counselors. This program sends the important message: We believe in all students and their future.”

Said Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy: “Navigating the road to college can be challenging for many students and families. This scholarship program will provide a clear path to follow and broaden the number of students reaching their college dreams. We’re proud to work with the College Board to provide the tools needed for college readiness.”

The distinctiveness of the College Board Opportunity Scholarships, Coleman said, is in the invitation for all students to participate: “The sad truth about high school is that too many students have already pulled themselves out of the running. Most kids think scholarships are for only the best students or the best athletes. But these scholarships are different. The College Board Opportunity Scholarships are not about how high you score, but how much you grow. It’s not about where you start, but how far you come.”

The program will officially launch in December 2018 for the class of 2020 and is open to all students who attend high school in the United States, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territories. The College Board is designating half of the scholarships for students whose families earn $60,000 or less.

Students can sign up now and learn more at cb.org/opportunity. Once they sign up, they can take the first step of creating a starter college list.