Getting into College Is Complicated – This New Scholarship Program Isn’t

Higher education opens doors: expanded job opportunities, higher pay, and a great likelihood of sustained employment. Still, not every high school student who wants to continue his or her education will make it to a college campus. The specific challenges vary, but some obstacles are predictable and can be navigated with outside help.

Two of the top hurdles to college attendance are the complex college-planning process and the ever-rising cost of tuition. Faced with these obstacles, too many high school students set aside their dreams without ever setting foot on a college campus. A bold new scholarship program seeks to prepare students for both hurdles – by offering guidance through the college planning maze and awarding scholarships for taking designated steps toward college attendance.

A Scholarship Program for All Students

The College Board, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting students to clearing a path for all students, has worked with its members to address the challenges that keep students from completing a college degree in the United States. And now, for the first time, the College Board has designed a scholarship program which will help all students move toward college attendance. The College Board Opportunity Scholarship program will guide high school students through the college planning process and will grant $25 million in scholarships over the next five years.

“Most kids think scholarships are for only the best students or the best athletes. But these scholarships are different,” College Board CEO David Coleman said. “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 is open to all students who attend high school in the United States, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories, including students attending Christian schools or home schools and students who plan to attend Christian colleges and universities.

Dr. Shirley Hoogstra, President of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), comments: “Christian colleges and universities offer rigorous academics and educational missions that shape students who act for the public good—often at a cost to themselves—out of a love for Jesus Christ and for the world around them. One in three CCCU students in the U.S. are first-generation college students, and 50% of our students in the U.S. come from families that make less than $50,000 per year. Now families can add the College Board’s Opportunity Scholarship program to their list of must-apply scholarships. I’m thrilled that students planning to attend Christian colleges are eligible for this program, which will award $25 million in scholarships over five years.”

Unlike typical scholarship programs, College Board Opportunity Scholarships don’t require an essay or an application, and there is no minimum GPA or SAT score requirement. Instead, students qualify by taking specific steps toward college attendance. The six steps are simple steps many students fail to pursue – especially low-income or first-generation students – and thus limit their college prospects.

The program is open to all students regardless of family income. At least half of all scholarships—$2.5 million annually—will be awarded to students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year.

“The College Board’s Opportunity Scholarship program is graciously designed to benefit every single high school student,” comments Rev. Girien Salazar, Director of the Faith & Education Coalition – NHCLC. “The program has no minimum GPA or SAT score requirement, which can help pave the way for struggling or historically disadvantaged students who would otherwise push aside the dream of attending college. Opportunity Scholarships guide students and the family through the college planning process, and that is a lasting win for the family even before funds are awarded!”

Six Easy Steps to College

“We hear from students and families everywhere that getting into college is too complicated and overwhelming,” explains College Board CEO David Coleman. “They are hungry for a simple guide. All high school students can apply for our Opportunity Scholarships – even students who never dreamt they could qualify.”

All students can earn opportunities for the College Board’s new scholarship program by completing any or all of the following six steps. Completing each step will earn a chance for a scholarship. Those completing all six steps earn a shot at the largest scholarship: $40,000 for their college education.

  1. Building a college list: Students get started by exploring colleges they are interested in attending. (600 Build Your College List scholarships will be awarded, each worth $500)
  2. Practicing for the SAT: Students use Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy. (1,500 Practice for the SAT scholarships will be awarded, each worth $1,000)
  3. Improving SAT scores: Students show how practice pays off by improving their scores. (150 Improve Your Score scholarships will be awarded, each worth $2,000)
  4. 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 will be awarded, each worth $500)
  5. Completing the FAFSA: Students fill out the free government form to apply for financial aid. (800 Complete the FAFSA scholarships will be awarded, each worth $1,000)
  6. Applying to colleges: Students apply to the colleges they want to attend. (500 Apply to Colleges scholarships will be awarded, each worth $1,000)

The Opportunity Scholarship program launches December 10, 2018, for the class of 2020. Students can sign up now and begin participating at

Sherri Gragg






Sherri Gragg is a freelance writer and author of three books. She lives in Tennessee with her family of seven – including three high school students and one in college.