Derek Davis is a homeschool dad who worked diligently behind the scenes to navigate obstacles and red tape in the process of helping his daughter, Mareike, and son, Severin, to get the scholarships for which they were well qualified. The problems came in unclear policies, administrative gaffes which went against state law, and perhaps traditional biases against homeschooling.
Since 2000, Bethany’s Law in Arizona required that homeschoolers have the same access to merit scholarships at the state universities that any other students have. The case is simple for public or private schoolers, since class rank and GPA are automatic triggers in the admissions office to indicate eligibility for the funds. Without a class rank, homeschool teens may need to be more proactive in knowing what monies their test scores and GPA may net them.
Mareike Davis got caught in a change of policy period in which homeschoolers were denied access to the Regents’ Award full tuition waiver. This was renamed in 2005 as the Regents’ High Honors Endorsement, and was only accessible through meeting criteria on the Arizona AIMS test, the public school measure of students’ right to graduate from high school. She did, however, receive the President’s Award in 2009, which at the time covered the tuition costs. Her father discusses the process of getting scholarships for homeschoolers.
What do you want to share about the struggle for Mareike in getting her scholarship?
- I think the real struggle was the one Bethany (Lewis) and her family went through to get Bethany’s Law passed a decade plus ago. This legislation required that all merit scholarships in the state university system for which the criteria are set by the Universities or ABOR, including the Regents’ Tuition Waiver as well as all university-specific merit scholarships, be available to home schoolers. Accordingly, ABOR changed its policy for the Tuition Waiver to allow home-schoolers to qualify with an ACT or SAT score at the 95 th percentile.
However, when I followed up on this, I discovered that the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) had subsumed the administration of the Regents’ Tuition Waiver, renaming it the Regents’ High Honors Endorsement Scholarship and using it to support the AIMS high-stakes testing agenda. Unfortunately, ADE explicitly and unilaterally denied the ADE/RHHE scholarship to home schooled students. Further research of Bethany ’s Law showed that not only was ADE’s policy illegal, but so was ASU’s policy regarding their own merit scholarships.
At this point, I contacted my district’s at-the-time Senator Huppenthal, only to discover that not only was he Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, but was quite supportive of home schooling. He arranged a series of meetings with AFHE, ABOR, ASU, UofA, NAU, and ADE at which the issue was exposed and policy changes agreed upon. The only real disappointment was that the remedy chosen for the AIMS/RHHE scholarship required that home schoolers take the AIMS test, as opposed to qualifying based on the more nationally-recognized SAT or ACT. Now, of course, that is irrelevant, as any home schoolers that would have qualified for the “new” gutted AIMS/RHHE scholarship will most certainly qualify for a better university-specific merit scholarship anyway (see below).
The lesson to be learned from all this is that it is not enough just to get a piece of legislation (like Bethany ’s Law) passed – the homeschooling community must be ever-vigilant to see that government is, in fact, adhering to the law.
How was the scholarship process for your son,Severin?
- For Severin, his receipt of the President’s Award was automatic, based simply on information contained in his application for admission (ACT score and perhaps his transcript) with no additional application required. A specific application for the AIMS/RHHE scholarship is required for a home schooled student, mainly documenting compliance with all of the AIM/RHHE criteria (GPA, core courses, etc.).
Are eligible students now notified automatically if they qualify?
- Eligible students have always been notified automatically of the level of merit award (President’s, Provost’s, or Dean’s) for which they qualify.
Any advice to homeschoolers who would like to try for this one or other merit scholarships?
- With respect to the ASU-specific merit scholarships, I believe that the general criteria-matrix is based on class rank, SAT and/or ACT score, and high school GPA. However, I don’t think ASU uses class rank and GPA when considering homeschoolers – they just use SAT/ACT scores at a slightly higher level than required of the general population. For example (and these specifics are purely speculative), if a public school student needs a 3.5 GPA, top 10% class rank, and an ACT of 30 for the President’s Award, a homeschooler might be required to have an ACT of 31.
So the focus (for getting one of these scholarships) should be on scoring high on either the SAT or the ACT. I say “or” here because ASU will use whichever score is most beneficial to the student. If possible, the student should take both (perhaps more than once) as the style of testing is somewhat different and some students do better on one vs. the other.
With respect to the AIMS/RHHE scholarship, that game is over unless your current high school senior took and exceeded the AIMS as a junior . In this case, he can still qualify for full tuition in 2012. For current high school juniors and younger, while the AIMS/RHHE scholarship will technically still exist after 2012, it has substantially reduced value and the qualification criteria have been increased:
New AIMS/RHHE criteria:
- 3.5 minimum GPA for 16 core courses
- no grades below a B in any of the 16 core courses
- achieve EXCEEDS on all three sections of the AIMS prior to Senior Year
- score 28 on ACT or 1300 on SAT1
New AIMS/RHHE value:
25% of initial tuition (renewable for 4 years); this is approximately $2000/year
This new AIMS/RHHE scholarship has little, if any, value for a new ASU or (probably) UA student:
- If a student is able to achieve a 1300 on the SAT, said student will likely also have at least a 3.0 GPA.
- Entering those two parameters on ASU’s new “Freshman Merit Scholarship Estimator” without even bothering to provide a class rank, one sees that the student will likely qualify for the Dean’s Award, a 4-year $2750/year merit scholarship.
- In fact, the Dean’s Award only requires a 1240 on the SAT. This scholarship is worth considerably more than the new AIMS/RHHE at only ~$2000/year for 4 years.
- Yet the news AIMS/RHHE scholarship criteria are considerably tougher:
1240 SAT + 3.0 GPA -> $2750 x 4 years (ASU Dean’s Award)
1300 SAT + 3.5 GPA + AIMS triple-exceeds -> $2000 x 4 years (AIMS/RHHE scholarship)
- Thus, any student who qualifies for the new AIMS/RHHE scholarship will almost certainly receive the Dean’s Award because the ACT and GPA will be sufficient. Furthermore, any student who can’t qualify for the Dean’s Award, either due to a low ACT or a poor GPA, will be disqualified for the AIMS/RHHE.
The bottom line is that homeschoolers with high grades and decent SAT test scores have a really good shot at getting merit scholarships at the Arizona state universities.
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(c) 2011 Holly Craw All rights reserved. You may post an excerpt with proper attribution and a link back to this page.
Read more on homeschool college scholarships:
- ASU tuition up 20%: Finding merit scholarships to cover the cost
- Using standardized tests to validate your homeschool education
- Homeschool 101 Scholarships: How do homeschoolers qualify for ASU merit scholarships?
- Homeschool students attend ASU, NAU on nearly full-tuition scholarships
- Homeschool 101 Scholarships: AZ SB1280 will give equal playing field to scholarshipr awards