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High schoolers can now earn a $1,000 scholarship for completing a free financial literacy course

Courtesy of Raise.me

It always pays to be financially informed, but with the help of Raise.me it's about to get even more valuable.

Raise.me wants to expand high school students' access to higher education by providing what the organization describes as "microscholarships," small awards that colleges and universities grant to students if they enroll.

Starting in the 9th grade, high schoolers can begin earning up to $80,000 in microscholarships to over 225 colleges from the organization. Some colleges offer merit scholarships while others offer need-based aid. Raise.me is currently used by students at one out of two high schools across the country.

"For us it is important to have a wide variety of institutions because we want schools that will be a good fit for every student" says George Kirkland, Raise.me's co-founder and Vice President.

Getting an A in algebra will earn a student $500, and completing an AP class will earn $1,000. Students can also win microscholarships for less academic accomplishments, like being an Eagle Scout or having perfect attendance.

CEO Preston Silverman and Vice President George Kirkland after winning the Milken-Penn Graduate School of Education Business Plan Competition.
Courtesy of Raise.me
CEO Preston Silverman and Vice President George Kirkland after winning the Milken-Penn Graduate School of Education Business Plan Competition.

"The goal is to get as much financial aid in front of students as early as possible and to do it in a way that is motivating and engaging," explains Kirkland.

Now, through the organization's financial literacy program, The University of Rochester, Oberlin College, and the University of San Diego will offer students up to $1,000 in scholarship to their institutions if they complete an online personal finance course offered by online curriculum provider EverFi.

Like other Raise.me scholarships, these schools will award students the funds if they end up enrolling in their institution. This policy also allows colleges to begin cultivating the largest pool of applicants possible.

The nine hour course is free and covers topics such as savings, banking, credit scores, higher education, renting vs. owning, insurance and taxes, consumer protection and investing.

"Financial literacy is a key part of the equation," says Kirkland. "We're proud to partner with colleges that are helping students stay motivated and on track."

Not only do 44 million Americans currently carry a cumulative 1.3 trillion dollars in student loan debt but, as Kirkland explains, "One-third of students who end up dropping out of college do so for financial reasons."

In addition to motivating students, the system helps colleges build their applicant pool, encouraging students to hone the skills schools are looking for.

Jonathan Burdick, Vice Provost for Enrollment Initiatives and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Rochester
Courtesy of Raise.me
Jonathan Burdick, Vice Provost for Enrollment Initiatives and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Rochester

Jonathan Burdick, Vice Provost for Enrollment Initiatives and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Rochester, has observed these positive benefits first-hand. "Raise.me has had an impact on students, many of whom felt that college was entirely out of reach."

Now, by learning the ins and outs of finance, students can get paid to learn a skill that will help them stay in school and be financially responsible as they enter adulthood.