Online portal offers micro-scholarships for potential students

East Carolina University has a new tool to use in its effort to help students earn a college degree. RaiseMe is a platform through which high school and community college students can earn micro-scholarships for their academic achievements and extracurricular activities.

By setting up a RaiseMe account, potential future university students can earn benefits like $100 for each A in a core or fine arts course, $200 for taking three courses in a foreign language, or $500 for scoring 1100 on the SAT. At ECU, students can earn up to $2,000 per year through the RaiseMe program.

Students sitting on a bench

More than 4,500 followers are on the platform through ECU’s partnership with RaiseMe, which began in December 2017. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

“It’s an opportunity to help students realize that college can be an affordable option for them, that there are some opportunities for aid,” said Chris Locklear, vice provost for academic success. “It also allows students to build relationships early on with colleges and universities.”

The micro-scholarships are designed to encourage certain accomplishments and behaviors that are valued by the university, and to help students set and achieve goals throughout their academic careers. In addition to academic benchmarks, micro-scholarships are tied to activities and achievements such as sports, work and community service, honor society membership, leadership awards and attending summer programs.

“Students are able to log achievements or activities and begin seeing real dollar amounts tied to them, and know that if they commit to ECU … that we’ve already made a financial commitment to them when they arrive,” Locklear said.

An additional benefit is that the student knows about that financial assistance earlier in the college decision-making process. Traditionally, scholarship and financial aid offers are made after a student has applied to a particular university.

“Here, while you may qualify for additional aid later on through that process, you already know coming in the door, even before you’ve submitted your application, that you have a certain amount of money on an annual basis at ECU,” Locklear said. “It does help students understand something about scholarships and cost and affordability before they even get to the decision point of submitting applications, being admitted and deciding where to enroll.”

ECU began its partnership with RaiseMe in December 2017 and already has more than 4,500 followers on the platform. Locklear said the program fits well with ECU’s goals of increasing low-income enrollments and low-income completions, as laid out in its UNC System Performance Agreement.

All free and reduced lunch high school students residing in North Carolina and students attending 70-plus-percent free and and reduced lunch high schools are eligible for RaiseMe. A minimum high school GPA of 2.75 is required to begin earning, and students must maintain a 2.5 GPA, maintain enrollment in 12 credits as a full-time student and complete the FAFSA annually. Transfer students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and a minimum of 24 credit hours, complete the FAFSA and demonstrate financial need.

“If you think about our goals as an institution and the students that we serve, this is another tool, another opportunity that can provide some advantages, help them make those decisions and see ECU as an attractive option,” Locklear said.

For more information visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/admissions/raiseme.cfm or http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/admissions/raisemetransfers.cfm.

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