It's a way to pay for college that almost seems too good to be true -- a website that gives students money for their normal high school activities.
That new website is Raise.Me and it helps high school students see how much money they could get from a university long before admissions time. Not all colleges and universities are on the website and those that are have pay to participate.
Some families and schools love the site since students can rack up thousands of dollars in scholarships.
"It just seemed almost too good to be true," said Turqoise Welch-Loera, whose son is a senior at Pius XI in Milwaukee.
But, it is true for her son Julian Loera.
"I've committed to UD, going to be a flyer next year," Loera said.
The University of Dayton in Ohio costs almost $55,000 per year. But, Loera is attending his first year free with all the scholarships he's earned.
"He will owe nothing for college next year and, in fact, because the Alpha Phi Alpha was a private scholarship, he's $3,000 ahead going into college," said Welch-Loera.
His scholarship total includes $28,000 from Raise.Me. The site partners with more than 200 colleges nationwide to give students what they call "micro-scholarships," money granted for the things students are already doing. An "A" could be worth $500 to $1000; an Advanced Placement class $600 to $2,000. Even a college visit can earn a student $600 to $1,500 dollars.
"There's getting that little reward along the way for a job well done," Ken Anselment, the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Lawrence University in Appleton.
The reward comes from University coffers. The I-Team asked if it's in addition to financial aid.
Raise.Me responded to the I-Team in an email:"The amount students earn on Raise.me is the minimum amount that the college will award you if you enroll in their school. However, the college can always decide to award you more scholarships based on merit or need once they see your application for admission. "
So, it's not an extra boost to what you might get- just a real-time tracking of what the school might award you in the future.
Anselment said Raise.Me isn't just about the money, though. He feels the site helps students who might not have guidance counselors available look toward the future.
"It helps start building a pathway and a bridge from where they are to where they want to be," he said.
Beth Mesrobian is the Director of College Transition for Carmen Schools of Science and Technology in Milwaukee. She doesn't encourage students to use Raise.Me. She tells the I-Team she worries a 9th grade student might not have a good idea of what they want or need from a school. She has concerns a student might not get into a school they've been tracking for years through Raise.Me. Additionally, she feels the website doesn't give students the same guidance a college counselor could.
Raise.Me responded that they give students information about the schools to help them figure out what schools might fit their needs. They tell us if a student doesn't have the qualifications for a school they like, they can use Raise.Me to explore other schools that might suit their needs.
For Loera, finding the website cemented his college decision.
"This was my first introduction to U of D," he said. "So when I heard about Raise Me and the money they were going to give me I was like well let's look more into the University of Dayton. It's going to be awesome, hopefully it's going to be a future career in optometry."
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