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MASON CITY – Mason City High School students can now receive up to $1,200 in micro-scholarships to the University of Iowa through a new statewide pilot program.

University officials were at the school Wednesday to announce the partnership. High-schoolers upload their grades, extracurricular achievements and volunteer experiences into the www.raise.me platform.

The platform, which has the support of Facebook and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be piloted by grades 9-12 in 99 Iowa schools for four years. A district was selected in each county based on the highest rate of students eligible for free and reduced lunch in 2015-16.

Taking four years of the same foreign language can earn a student $100 toward University of Iowa tuition while each year of perfect attendance can earn $75, according to Mark Warner, University of Iowa assistant provost and director of financial aid. The credits are divided over eight semesters, or four if a student attends a community college first.

Warner said the program “rewards students for getting and staying on the path to a college degree” and lessens the need for borrowing.

“Even if they ultimately decide not to attend the University of Iowa, participating students will be better prepared for success at any post-secondary education,” he said.

Counselor Karla Wymore said she believes the program will entice Mason City students to take advanced courses, a step toward post-secondary education. She said either a two- or four-year degree is required for 70 percent of new jobs in the state, but only 42 percent of Iowans have such a degree.

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Seniors have until April 1 to apply. Four were getting a head start on raise.me Wednesday morning.

Derek Tate says the University of Iowa is a leading option for him to study journalism and mass communication, but he’s trying to figure out how he’s going to pay for it.

He’s an only child, so mom Donna Brown says navigating the college process is new for her.

“We’re focused on scholarships,” she said. “It’s nice this is available now.”

Sawyer Goetz plans to attend the University of Iowa for biomedical engineering. Mom Barb Goetz says he will be her third child in college, all of whom may end up at Iowa.

“This is a great opportunity for them,” she said of the program. “I like that it rewards academic rigor and service, something I can’t stress enough.”

Other area schools chosen to participate are North Butler, Charles City, CAL, West Hancock, LuVerne, North Iowa and Northwood-Kensett.

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