Education News

Incentives Encourage Students to Graduate Early

Incentives Encourage Students to Graduate Early

Some states are rewarding high school students to graduate early, but are they college and career ready?

States such as Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota have concluded that the best motivation for a high school students is to graduate early. To further inspire them, early graduates receive a scholarship to lower the cost of post-secondary education. Legislation is still pending in other states.

It is estimated that approximately 23 states currently offer early high school completion programs but few reward students with stipends or scholarships.

Proponents tout the financial savings for families and the state; however, opponents caution the maturity and preparedness of students who graduate early.

Diane Ward, who directs state education policy at Jobs for the Future, suggests these programs do not serve low-income and underrepresented students. Still, states who have large numbers of underserved populations like Texas saw the backlash when the legislature canceled the program.

“It’s a very popular program,” said Dominic Chavez, the senior director of the office of external relations for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. “The legislature was inundated with angry phone calls from constituents.” Many students had planned their schedules counting on the money, and it wasn’t until the money dried up that it became apparent how much it meant to families, he said.

Other states like Arizona, who do not offer an incentive for early graduates, have seen dramatic changes in their students–who now see themselves as “college bound.”

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Photo Courtesy: Matt Detrich for Education Week
Ball State University freshman Ranshitha Devendran is the recipient of a $4,000 Mitch Daniels Early Education Scholarship for graduating a year early from Burris Laboratory School in Muncie, Ind.