How Scholars Are Selected
Spring is the time of year when parents and their kids anxiously await the results of scholarship applications. For those who receive the scholarship of their dreams, the news brings elation and anticipation. For those who do not, the news may leave applicants wondering why. As the administrator of numerous scholarships benefiting Perry County, including the well-known Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship (LECS), the Perry County Community Foundation is witness to both scenarios. Oftentimes, students and parents wonder how the Foundation arrives at finalists for the LECS.
The LECS program was created by Lilly Endowment to help raise Indiana's level of educational attainment and to increase the ability of Indiana's community foundations to enhance the quality of life for Indiana residents. The scholarship is highly sought after, in part because it provides full tuition, required fees, and a special allocation of up to $800 per year for required books and equipment for all four years of undergraduate study.
Lilly Endowment has determined the general conditions for the award, including, among others, the requirement that applicants intend to pursue full-time study in a baccalaureate degree program at an Indiana college or university. The LECS program allows community foundations to further define eligibility criteria, such as the Perry County Community Foundation's requirement that applicants have a minimum SAT score of 1700 (out of a possible 2400) or a minimum ACT score of 25 (out of a possible 36) and have qualified for the Core 40 or Honors diploma upon high school graduation.
Beyond these general requirements, the Foundation's board of trustees appoints a scholarship selection committee made up of representatives from the community and having residency in geographic regions of the county. Despite the fact that members of the committee are from throughout the county, finalists are not determined by which school they attend. Rather, each application is scored based on a predetermined scale with points given for academic performance, involvement in community and school activities, and written essays, which are scored using the ISTEP rubric. Applicants who rank within a predetermined percentage are selected to be interviewed by the full committee.
At the time of their interview, students are asked a series of questions, the same for each. Their answers are evaluated and scored on presentation, enthusiasm, maturity, self-confidence, social skills, and articulation. These scores, along with those based on the criteria outlined above, are used to determine final rankings.
Finally, the name of the highest-ranking applicant is submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) for final review and approval. ICI, a nonprofit organization representing 31 Indiana colleges and universities, oversees statewide administration of the LECS program. The Perry County Community Foundation notifies the Lilly Endowment Community Scholar selected for the award by the end of April each year.