Common App and Scholarship America Join Forces to Expand Access to Scholarship Opportunities

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Common App and Scholarship America Join Forces to Expand Access to Scholarship Opportunities

By Joan Cronson

Partnership will help distribute millions in college scholarship funding to low-income and first-generation students often locked out of opportunities for financial support.

Common App, the nonprofit membership organization dedicated to access, equity and integrity in the college admissions process, announced today a new partnership with Scholarship America, the nation’s largest private scholarship provider, to close persistent racial and socioeconomic gaps in access to college scholarships.

“Today, more than $6 billion in private scholarships is available to eligible students pursuing higher education. But too often, the students who stand to gain the most from that funding are not the ones who actually access it,” said Jenny Rickard, President & CEO of Common App. “We’re excited to partner with Scholarship America to explore new ways to reach the student groups, particularly Black and Latinx applicants, who face the greatest financial roadblocks on their path to success in higher education.”

“We know that scholarships have the power to break down barriers, open doors and set a student on a path for success,” said Robert C. Ballard, president & CEO, Scholarship America. “The challenge is that students aren’t always able to find all the scholarships they are eligible to apply for – especially students from historically underserved communities. Through this partnership with the Common App, we will be able to directly connect students to scholarship opportunities, with the goal of increasing equity and access by developing stronger, more student-focused solutions.”

Today, a disproportionate amount of scholarship dollars are awarded to white and higher income students. According to an analysis of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study by Mark Kantrowitz, white students are about 1.5x as likely to win a scholarship as Black, Latinx, or Asian students. Students in the bottom income quartile also receive less than half the “other financial aid” as students in the top income quartile. Crucially, research also suggests that students who receive scholarships are more likely to not just enroll in college, but also persist through graduation — which means that inequities in scholarship distribution only exacerbate existing gaps in college completion.

Amazon, a pilot participant, is partnering to expand access to their Amazon Future Engineer scholarship program. “The focus of the Amazon Future Engineer scholarship program is to ensure more students – especially low income students and students of color – have the opportunity to pursue increasingly valuable computer science degrees,” said Dr. Shanika Hope, head of Amazon Future Engineer, U.S. “We are excited to be a part of this new collaboration between Scholarship America and Common App to further advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for college students.”

Beginning with a pilot program in January 2021, Common App and Scholarship America will identify and contact students who qualify for scholarship funding.

Following the pilot, the goal is to scale these interventions, allowing students to identify, apply for and receive in a fraction of the time it currently takes.

About Common App

Common App is a not-for-profit member organization committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process. Each year, more than one million students, one-third of whom are first-generation, apply to college through the Common App’s online application. In January 2019, the Common App united with Reach Higher, the college access and success campaign started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House.

By joining forces, Common App and Reach Higher accelerated progress toward our joint goal of supporting all students, especially low-income and first-generation students, in achieving their higher education dreams. Our access and equity work for students include a college advising texting campaign with AdmitHub and College Advising Corps, scholarships and community college initiatives, Dear Class of 2020 Fund, and more.

Founded in 1975, Common App serves over 900 member colleges and universities worldwide. To learn more, visit commonapp.org, and follow @CommonApp and #CommonApp on social media.

About Scholarship America

Scholarship America is a non-profit organization that helps students fulfill their college dreams. Since 1958, Scholarship America has distributed $4.3 billion to more than 2.6 million students. The organization works with partners to lower barriers to a college education and give students the support needed to succeed. Learn more at scholarshipamerica.org.