Scholar FAQs



Who can be a Starfish Scholar?

To apply to Starfish, students must meet these criteria:

  1. Be in 8th grade

  2. Have a family household income that qualifies them for the 21st Century Scholars program, and be accepted into that program before the end of 8th grade year

  3. Have at least a 2.5 cumulative middle school GPA  

  4. Have passed both English and Math portions of ISTEP.


21st Century Scholars is an Indiana state program that provides college tuition support for students who meet grade and household income requirements. Tuition support provided by 21st Century Scholars can be used at any state-supported university in Indiana, or as partial tuition at some private Indiana colleges. However, families must apply for their child during 7th or 8th grade. To learn more about 21st Century Scholars click here. Your acceptance into the 21st Century Scholar program assures us of your college financial need, one part of Starfish Scholar eligibility.


Typically 8th graders learn about Starfish Initiative when their school counselor invites them to a presentation at their school.  Most Marion County middle schools (almost 50 this year) are included in our presentation schedule. Starfish specifies the criteria students must meet to attend the presentation.

Because one must attend a Starfish presentation to apply to Starfish, we also offer some community presentations for those who miss one at school. 

In January, when all presentations are completed and applications submitted, Starfish selects the candidates whom we would like to interview along with a parent/guardian. By the end of April we will have selected the next class of incoming scholars. 




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 84% of our alumni are now college graduates or are still in pursuit of their college degrees.


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.