Idea: Monetary Incentive for Students


Elena DellaValle

Students at The University of Akron work on their coursework.

By Elena DellaValle, Guest Writer

How exciting would it be if universities paid students for their good grades? Think about it; college can be a challenging experience, so receiving money for hard-earned A’s would be a tangible incentive in addition to the feeling of accomplishment from getting a good grade.

The University of Akron already has a similar concept in effect called the Akron Guarantee Scholarship, which ensures the yearly renewal of students’ scholarships if they maintain at least a 2.0 GPA. The guarantee will total $3,500 as they progress through their sophomore, junior and senior years.

“This enhanced scholarship offers important advantages to prospective students. It rewards steady academic progress toward graduation with automatic scholarship increases along the way,” Matthew J. Wilson, the president of The University of Akron, said on the school’s website.

The Akron Guarantee Scholarship rewards students for their success and so would the concept of paying students for their good grades.

South High Community School, a high school in Massachusetts, gave the reward idea a try back in 2009 as part of the National Math and Science Initiative. The high school opened up their advanced placement courses to all students, and the students who scored a 3 or higher on the exam earned a $100 reward. For context, a 3 is considered good because it’s equivalent to a C or better, which is a passing grade.

Joe Nystrom, a math teacher at the low-income school, now teaches advanced placement statistics to eight times as many students as he used to because of the motivation to earn a reward for good test scores. If this idea worked in 2009, it should certainly work in 2017, right?

Here’s how the concept of paying college students for their good grades would work: For every exam, a student receives an A on within a semester, he or she would receive $25. The maximum number of exams the concept would apply to is five, so if a student takes five exams within one semester and earns an A on all of them, he or she would receive $125 at the end of that semester. If the student receives another five A’s on exams in the next semester, a total of $250 would be given to the student at the end of one school year. The reason for the limit of earning money on up to five exams is for financial reasons so the opportunity can extend to all students.

That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

“I would have loved to have this incentive during my senior year. Receiving $25 for each A on up to five exams doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s enough when you’re a college student,” Savannah Hudson, a senior who graduates from the University in December, said.

There is, however, a catch to this new concept. It would only apply to students during their senior year of college. The reason for this limitation is because it would set a goal for students to work their way up to their senior year and have the opportunity to take advantage of the incentive.

It could also lessen the rate of college dropouts because it would give incoming students something to look forward to and it could make them work harder during their freshman, sophomore and junior years.

Dr. Val Pipps, a professor at the University, said, “I believe we should try ideas like this for a couple of reasons. This gives a student an incentive to go to class and to pay attention—to strive to do well. The money can help with expenses. Maybe incomes in the form of reduced tuition for the class in which the A was received. Anything the University can do to help offset costs should be studied. If this did work for upperclassmen and women, then let others have a shot.”

Furthermore, the concept would benefit the universities that implement it. It could generate more revenue since additional students might be interested and want to attend the participating colleges. It may also lead to higher graduation rates and a better overall ranking for the universities.

The new concept would create motivated students and proud faculty members at universities across the country.