Blog: Financial Aid

HS Juniors: Build a College List By July 31 for a Chance to Win $40,000

Wednesday, May 29, 2019  
Posted by: Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations
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The College Board's new College Board Opportunity Scholarships program guides high school students through six steps of the college planning process. Completing each step earns students a chance to win scholarships of $500 to $2,000 through monthly drawings; doing all six steps also earns them a chance at one of 25 $40,000 scholarships to be awarded in February 2020. Notably for the NCAN community, College Board has designated at least half of all the scholarships for students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year.

But a key deadline is fast approaching! To remain eligible for the $40,000 scholarships, current high school juniors must join the program and complete the first step – building a college list on College Board's BigFuture website – by July 31. If you work with juniors, please put all your best nudging strategies to work to get them participating!

More than 200,000 high school students have already joined the program, and hundreds have received scholarships through the monthly drawings. In the words of one student: I applied to the scholarship because college is very expensive, but I never thought that I would actually win it. I would say to definitely apply to the scholarship because you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. Applying was a very easy process, and I’m so happy that I did. 

What is a college list? Simply put, it is six or more colleges or universities that a student might be interested in attending. BigFuture’s college search tool allows students to identify schools using a wide variety of criteria, including geography, size, academic offerings, admissions criteria, diversity, housing, and financial aid. Saving six or more institutions in the student’s initial “list” is a great first step. As application deadlines get closer, students can revisit the list, learn more about each school, and add or subtract institutions. This flyer walks through each step of the process.

BigFuture is not just a free college search tool, but a comprehensive system to help students develop their college and career aspirations, find colleges, understand financial aid, and develop a personalized plan for staying on track during the application process. It also includes video clips with advice from fellow students and experts that explain confusing aspects and offer encouragement.

The College Board Opportunity Scholarships program, which opened in December 2018, doesn’t require an essay or application, and it doesn’t have a minimum GPA or SAT score requirement, or a citizenship requirement. Rather, it rewards students’ actions on their way to college, making it open to all. College Board is awarding $5 million in scholarships each year for the next five years through the program. Other steps in the program include practicing for the SAT, refining your college list, completing the FAFSA, and submitting college applications.

Don't let the school year end without your students signing up for this scholarship program! The College Board has a handy FAQ page for those with additional questions about the program as well as a great set of resources for educators and parents to spread the word about the program.

June 19, 2019: This blog post has been updated to reflect a deadline extension from College Board.