MIAMI (CBS4) — Miami Dade College has announced a unique financial scholarship program for high school seniors. Starting this fall, any Miami-Dade student who graduates with a 3.0 GPA or better will be able to attend Miami Dade College for free.

It’s called “The American Dream Scholarship.”

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“As part of Miami Dade College’s continued commitment to this community and to our nation, I am very pleased to announce the American Dream Scholarship,” said Miami Dade College President Dr. Eduardo Padrón. “We call it the American Dream Scholarship with good reason – because a college education today equips students not only to be participants in a new global economy, but to also achieve the American Dream. College graduates are the foundation of economic and community growth.”

With between $10 million and $12 million in the fund, mostly from private donations, the scholarship will cover 60 credits, which would normally cost the student about $6,500.

The scholarship is open to any student with a diploma, whether he or she attended a private, public or charter school in Miami-Dade, or was home-schooled.

However, it won’t be available to students already enrolled.

Entering students would have to meet certain qualifications:

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• Be a legal Miami-Dade County resident.
• Graduate from high school with a weighted grade point average of 3.0 or higher and maintain that through college.
• Have MDC entry test scores indicating they are ready for college.
• Apply for federal student aid.

 “This scholarship program aims to encourage high school students to stay in school, achieve at higher levels and be better prepared to enter college,” said President Padrón.

The announcement comes at time when funding for state scholarships, including Bright Futures – a state scholarship program which contributes thousands of dollars to qualifying students’ tuition costs – may be cut and the requirements for getting aid will be tougher.

Miami Dade College, the nation’s largest institution of higher learning, enrolled 160,000 students last year. More than half receive financial aid and 57 percent of the students come from Miami-Dade County Public schools.

Many states do offer scholarships to seniors based on academic achievement and other factors, just like Florida’s Bright Futures, but only a few colleges offer full scholarships for all students.

Click here for more information on The American Dream Scholarship.

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