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ASU expands reach of innovative financial literacy scholarship

Arizona State University recently was awarded a second round of funding for the ASU Earn to Learn program – more than doubling the program’s funds and reach.

Part of the AZ Earn to Learn (AZEL) program – a collaboration of the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University to help limited-income Arizonans save for college – ASU Earn to Learn will now be able to serve more than 500 potential students through the new grant.

“Arizona State University was awarded the largest amount of grant money among the three state universities and we are confident that these funds will make a huge impact in the lives of hundreds of Arizona high school students,” said Beatriz Rendón, associate vice president of Educational Outreach and Student Services for ASU. “This scholarship opportunity not only provides funding to attend the university, but also helps educate the entire family about financial literacy and the importance of saving for college.”

ASU Earn to Learn is funded through a matching grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Service/Assets for Independence that provides matching funds to ASU’s contribution of $1.25 million for a total of $2.5 million.

ASU, in partnership with the Arizona-based nonprofit organization Live the Solution, launched this innovative need-based financial aid program in January 2013. Last year marked the first time in the federal agency’s history that a state university applied for and received matching funds for a scholarship program of this nature.

“The first step to moving forward in life is realizing that our dreams will only be dreams until we decide to make them to reality,” says one AZEL program participant. “I am one of four kids in my family, and I understand that education is a treasure that no one can ever take away from you. I will be the first in my family to attend college.”

To be eligible for ASU Earn to Learn, students’ and their families must earn less than 200 percent above the federal poverty level. Participants must save at least $25 per month in a special Individual Development Account (IDA) for a minimum of six consecutive months after enrolling in the program, complete financial education classes, and receive one-on-one financial coaching and college readiness training.

Eligible students will then qualify to receive $8 for every $1 they save, up to $4,000 in matching funds – $2,000 from the federal grant and $2,000 from the university. These funds can be used for tuition, fees and other approved education-related expenses at Arizona State University.

Students and families can visit participantsurvey.org to see if they qualify for ASU Earn to Learn. Eligible participants can begin enrolling in AZEL immediately.

Participants interested in starting college in the fall of 2014 should complete the Participant Survey no later than Nov. 15. For complete eligibility guidelines, program requirements and a step-by-step application, visit www.AZEarnToLearn.org.