Scholarship Approval Inspires Greater Potential
In a special session Tuesday, the state Senate unanimously passed legislation that will create the Inspire Scholarship Program. The legislation failed to pass during the regular legislative session, igniting the debate that the state was failing to provide financial assistance to all students interested in pursuing higher education opportunities.
The program, open to Delaware residents with the requisite credentials, will provide financial assistance to Delaware State University students throughout their first two years. Scholarship recipients must meet various program requirements, similar to the SEED grant program (which applies to Del Tech and UD), which include maintaining a 2.75 GPA, continuous enrollment as a full-time student, completion of ten hours per semester of community service, and zero felony charges. The scholarships will be worth approximately $1,300 each year per student, which is approximately 19% of total tuition and fees ($6,731/year) at DSU.
The Inspire Scholarship Program will not only help cover costs, but it will help DSU students minimize debt accumulation, which – according to HB 399 – totals $23,000 in debt by their senior year. It also will enable students to concentrate on their studies rather than other concerns that can derail the pursuit of a degree.
Although the Inspire Scholarship Program will undoubtedly benefit many students, there are still areas of concern that all higher education institutions should consider exploring further. In Delaware, we need to address our college retention and completion rates to ensure that motivated students that arrive on campus persevere throughout their tenure until they receive their degree.
Looking forward, some proposals have been put forward to build on existing programs. One example is a full scholarship program, such as the STAR program proposed by Governor Minner, to provide SEED recipients that demonstrate achievement at their respective two-year programs an additional two years of funding to continue pursuing higher education opportunities. Another consideration would be providing financial assistance to students pursuing higher education opportunities while enrolled in high school, which could improve completion rates and minimize financial burdens. This approach was highlighted in Governor Markell’s “Blueprint for a Better Delaware” and is a part of numerous early college high school models looking to expand within Delaware.
We’ve taken some steps, and it will be important to consider further improvements to ensure that students who decide to enroll in higher education are provided the necessary supports to persevere and complete their degrees.