In the tight-budget times we face today, paying for college is one of the more challenging prospects for homeschooling families, families who, for the most part, get by on only one income. That’s the reason why the increase in the Washington Opportunity Scholarship from $1,000 to $5,000 is such great news for local students.
This scholarship is for Washington residents studying at in-state institutions who plan to or are majoring in science, technology, engineering, math (often called STEM) and health-care fields, and who meet an income threshold that’s considered low- to middle-income (up to $102,200 for a family of four). The aim of this scholarship is to encourage more students to go into these high-paying, high-demand fields.
In 2011, legislation passed which created the public-private Opportunity Scholarship, and directors hope to increase its effectiveness and reach in the coming years. Currently, most of the scholarship money comes from Microsoft and Boeing, which together have contributed $50 million. The state has contributed $5 million. “There’s a reason the business community is in on this,” said State Representative Ross Hunter; “the high-tech community needs these graduates.”
In 2013, nearly 1,900 Washington State students will receive this scholarship, and homeschool students are just as eligible as private and public school students. This is one of the easiest scholarships to get, with no essay requirement. Students must have a 2.75 grade-point average and fill out the Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA).
If your homeschool student is interested in any of the STEM subjects, be sure to have them complete at least 3 years of science, and 4 years of math during high school. If they are good at math, consider encouraging them to pursue a college degree in one of the STEM majors. This could lead to larger college scholarships, lower college costs, a higher chance of employment after college, and larger potential salary after college.
Competition in these majors can be tough at some colleges, and admittance is highly selective. To best position your student for success, give them a rigorous college prep education, and make sure their high school transcript accurately reflects their abilities and accomplishments. To strengthen their high school records, consider adding some outside courses, such as community college classes, online courses, or credit by exam such as AP or CLEP, which will corroborate their homeschool transcript with outside documentation. Good letters of recommendation, a strong activity and awards list, and solid SAT/ACT scores will go a long way to ensure success in admittance and scholarship awards.