Scholar FAQs



Who can be a Starfish Scholar?

We recruit eighth grade students. To qualify to be a Starfish Scholar, students must financially qualify to be a 21st Century Scholar, and maintain a 2.8 G.P.A. For more information about the 21st Century Scholar program, please click here.

We recruit students in two ways. First, an eighth grade student can submit an application online.

Second, we contact guidance counselors at middle schools that feed into Marion County high schools. The guidance counselors identify potential Scholars according to our criteria. We make a presentation to those students at the school and invite them to take an application packet home and return it, completed in one week’s time.

Then we select from those candidates whom we would like to interview along with a parent or guardian. We select our final group of Starfish Scholars from the group we have interviewed.

What is 21st Century Scholars – and why do I need to be accepted to be in Starfish?

21st Century Scholars is a state program that provides tuition for students who meet certain grade and household income requirements – along with a few other important qualifications – at a good number of colleges and universities in Indiana. To learn more about this program click here. Your acceptance into the 21st Century Scholar program assures us of your financial status, and therefore, establishes one part of your eligibility to be a Starfish Scholar.

Why don’t you accept upperclassmen or middle school students?

Our college success program is based upon a mentoring model that includes one-on-one mentoring from the beginning to the end of high school. That model works amazingly well. One hundred percent of the students who complete our program graduate high school. And 95% of our alumni with whom we are in contact are still pursuing their dream of a college degree – they have not dropped out of college.


Do I get to pick my child’s mentor?

Because our staff meets every Scholar candidate and every mentor candidate, we pair Mentors with Scholars, but parents and Mentors alike have an opportunity to ask questions and approve the match before it actually happens. Once a match is made, everyone involved – including the Scholar and parent – is committed to making the match work.

What happens if I don’t like (or think I don’t like) my mentor?

Tell us! Sometimes we do hear from a Scholar – or a Mentor – that they believe a match is not working out. Usually there has been a miscommunication from someone, or the Scholar might feel insecure and unsure of how to act with this new adult in their life. Your Scholar Specialist will help get to the bottom of anything you might think is going on, help you clear anything up, and move ahead.

In very rare cases, a match really doesn’t work out. In those few cases, we make another match.

Will I have the same mentor for all 4 years, or lots of different mentors?

The vast majority of our matches last all four years of high school and the Mentor and Scholar continue to communicate well into college. But it’s true that sometimes Mentors move away because of a job offer, or (after their two-year initial commitment is complete) they may decide to volunteer in the community in another way. The bottom line is that, as long as a Scholar works hard on his or her grades and stays in the Starfish program, we’ll work hard to make sure they have a great match.

Do you offer Starfish Scholarships?

We do not offer scholarships originating with Starfish Initiative, but we do direct our Scholars to a number of sources through which scholarships and other tuition assistance is available.

Do you pay for private school tuition?

We don’t. We do, however, have relationships with some private high schools that have scholarships reserved for Starfish Scholars. Those scholarships are awarded by the schools. Keep in mind, if you think you want to attend a private high school, you need to apply directly through the school and start EARLY – well before the end of the eighth grade!

Can you help me get college scholarships?

One of our primary goals is to pass along to our Scholars as much information as possible about available scholarship and tuition assistance funds. We also have a terrific new online service that offers a lot: our Scholars can “shop” for colleges by major or area of the country, keep track of their grades, and – yes – investigate scholarship opportunities using a number of different factors such as background, race, G.P.A., and a number of other factors.

Will my daughter have a female mentor?

Yep! Young ladies are matched with college-educated women, and the guys are matched with college-educated men.