A Year in Review: Imagine America Scholarship and Award Programs

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Feature Story

By Jenny Faubert

More and more students are choosing career colleges for higher education. Why? The convenience and flexibility is appealing to students who have to work full-time while enrolled, have families or need retraining. The growth of career colleges in today’s down economy is mirrored by the tremendous increase in applicants for the Imagine America scholarship and award programs.

In 2009, the Foundation received over 12,000 applications – 2,000 more than last year! Nearly 80% of those applicants were awarded the Imagine America scholarship. How did this happen? Currently over 550 career colleges and 15,000 high schools across the nation participate in the Imagine America scholarship and award programs.

Each year, the Imagine America scholarship for high school seniors is awarded to graduating students from across the country who are enrolling in participating career colleges. In 2009, Texas and California were dueling for first place with the highest number of registered high schools. Texas took the top place with 1,084 registered high schools, only 11 more than California. Pennsylvania came in third with 886 high schools. When it came to the number of applicants, it was another close race with California coming in first with 1,796 applicants, Pennsylvania coming in second with 1,718 and Texas coming in third with 1,264.

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Last year the Foundation launched the Adult Skills Education Program (ASEP) for adult learners attending participating colleges. It is no surprise that ASEP had an extremely successful year. Students attending career colleges are more likely to be adult students than in other sectors. At the 4-year level, 42% of career college students are 24 years of age or older, compared to 6.7% at private, not-for-profit institutions and 4.4% at public institutions.

In its first year, ASEP had over 300 participating career colleges and nearly 5,500 Imagine America ASEP applicants. Virginia had 882 applicants alone, taking the first place in our top 10 states for participating ASEP career colleges. Pennsylvania came in second with 666 applicants, and Kentucky was not far behind with 636 applicants.

Top Ten States ASEP
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Each ASEP applicant must complete a student assessment provided by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Through this survey, we found that 34% of the Foundation’s 2009 ASEP applicants stated they were enrolling in a career college because they wanted a different job with better pay. Eighteen percent of our ASEP applicants had recently lost their jobs and wanted to learn new skills, while 11% wanted to move ahead in their current jobs.

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The Foundation experienced its highest number of Imagine America high school applicants ever in 2009. ASEP had a great first year, and could be as popular as the high school program in a couple of years! Only halfway through this year, the Military Award Program (MAP) has had over 2,000 applicants. The 2010 Imagine America high school scholarship program is off to a great start! In January alone, the high school scholarship program received 2,284 applicants.

To learn more about the Imagine America scholarship and award programs, visit our Scholarships for Education page.