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To Get Students to College, New College Board Scholarships Reward Progress Over Scores

While the College Board might be best known for SAT and AP tests, their latest push to get more students to college doesn’t weigh scores for either. 

Beginning with the Class of 2020, the College Board will offer Opportunity Scholarships to young people who take six simple, significant steps on the path to college, from creating an initial college list to completing the FAFSA.

Opportunity Scholarships don’t require any application or essay. Rather, students have the opportunity to earn money for each action that they complete and can track their progress by setting up a free College Board online account. Completing all six steps makes students eligible to win a larger sum of $40,000 toward their college education. Drawings to select scholarship winners will occur monthly.

To become eligible to win Opportunity Scholarships, students can:

  • Build a college list: Students begin the process by exploring programs of interest to them (600 scholarships of $500 each)
  • Practice for the SAT: Students use the Khan Academy SAT practice platform to prepare for test day. (1,500 scholarships of $1,500)
  • Improve the SAT score: Research shows that retaking the SAT often leads to better scores and better college outcomes. (150 scholarships of $1,000)
  • Strengthen the college list: Adjust and improve students’ college lists to better reflect their interests and ensure a healthy mix of safety, fit, and reach schools. (400 scholarships of $500)
  • Complete the FAFSA: Many students don’t know that they qualify for government financial aid; millions of eligible students do not complete the FAFSA. Half of these students would have been eligible for federal aid, significantly reducing financial barriers to college attainment. (800 scholarships of $1,000)
  • Apply to colleges: Earning a college degree increases wage earning potential, economic mobility, and health outcomes. (500 scholarships of $1,000)

By outlining a path for students to follow and incentivizing these actionable steps, the College Board hopes to make college admission a more transparent, more accessible process for all students. 

“We hear from students and families everywhere that getting into college is too complicated and overwhelming. They are hungry for a simple guide,” said College Board CEO David Coleman. 

That’s why these scholarships are structured to guide students and families through major, often under-utilized steps of the college process, preparing students for success while also creating additional opportunities for financial support.

Starting with the Class of 2020, the College Board will offer $25 million in scholarships over a five-year period to students who complete these steps. Scholarships are open to all high school seniors in the United States, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories, regardless of immigration status. 

“The sad truth about high school is that too many students have already pulled themselves out of the running. Most kids think scholarships are for only the best students or the best athletes. But these scholarships are different,” said Coleman. 

“The College Board Opportunity Scholarships are not about how high you score, but how much you grow,” he added. “It’s not about where you start, but how far you come.”

College Board Opportunity Scholarships will launch this December for the Class of 2020. Students can sign up here.