Scholars Choice 529, a scholarship program that provides financial aid to high school graduates who need it most, announced Friday that it would provide grants to 10 percent of the $4.9 billion in scholarships awarded in fiscal year 2018.
The announcement follows months of criticism that the federal government was not providing enough financial aid for African American students, which led to a call for more funds for the program.
“This is a major milestone for Scholars Choice, and it is a win-win for all students, including students of color,” said John W. Bursch, president and CEO of Scholars Choice.
“This decision means that African American and Hispanic students will have the opportunity to pursue their dreams in a way that is consistent with their own personal and educational goals, which is important for any program to offer.”
Scholars Choice also announced it would extend its financial aid availability to students with disabilities.
The move was welcomed by students of all races, but especially black students, who had been struggling for years with a lack of financial aid.
“This decision is an important step forward, and we thank the president and his administration for making this commitment,” said Jaelene P. Lewis, a senior at Westview High School in Columbia, S.C. Lewis is black.
Lewis said she was very pleased to hear about the decision.
She also said she has always wanted to pursue a degree in a college or university.
For students of different races, scholarships and grants have been a key component of their success.
ScholarsChoice, which launched in 2014, awards about $500 million in grants each year.
The organization says that the program is the nation’s largest, and that the average grant amount is more than $50,000.
This year, the nonprofit has received about $2.2 billion in federal aid.
Scholarship applicants must demonstrate that they can make it through their first year of school without a high school diploma, and have at least a high-school diploma or GED.
It has also helped students of low-income families, and those from communities of color.
In 2018, more than 11,000 students applied to Scholarship and Opportunity, according to the nonprofit.
The awards are capped at $3,000 each year, and applicants can apply up to three years after the award.
Scholar Choice has awarded about $3.3 billion in awards.
Students who are not able to attend school for a year are eligible for other scholarships and financial aid, such as $1,500 for college or $5,000 for graduate school.
Students who cannot complete the application process are not eligible for any scholarship or financial aid beyond those available through the federal program.
Students can apply for scholarships and other financial aid through the scholarship website, ScholarshipDirect.org.
The deadline for applying for scholarships is Oct. 15.
Students who are admitted will be notified when they are eligible to apply.