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Students Incentivized to Get COVID Vaccine with Scholarships

Biden Administration also launches COVID-19 College Challenge.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

August 05, 2021

Federal and state governments seeks to incentivize students to get the COVID vaccine with more than a million dollars in scholarships and college challenges.
Students Incentivized to Get COVID Vaccine with Scholarships
COVID cases – or lack thereof – hit a major milestone about a week ago. Case levels finally fell to a level not seen since March 2020, when the entire country essentially shutdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Still, we have a long way to go until we’re living in a COVID-free country. Many states are still restricting capacity levels in retail stores and restaurants. Large concerts have yet to make a comeback. Experts say that the U.S. will not reach “herd immunity” from this virus until 80% of the population is immunized, either through vaccines or individuals being previously infected. For that reason, both federal and state governments are working to incentivize more individuals to get vaccinated before the end of the summer, and they’re targeting students specifically. The Biden Administration is challenging colleges to get their student body fully vaccinated, and some states are even going so far as to offer scholarships through a lottery process.

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Biden’s COVID-19 College Challenge

As of June 7, 62% of adult Americans have received at least one dose, according to USA Today, but the Biden Administration is really pushing to get at least 70% of adult Americans a first dose of the COVID vaccine by July 4. In an effort to reach that milestone, they’re targeting college students. On June 3, the Administration launched the COVID-19 College Challenge. This challenge urges colleges to communicate directly with students on the importance of getting vaccinated as well as provide ways for them to easily do so. The Department of Education launched a three-prong plan for helping colleges achieve vaccination goals:

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  1. Engage every student, faculty, and staff member. This point calls on colleges not just to encourage members of their community to get vaccinated but to also educate them on the COVID vaccine.
  2. Organize your college community. This point asks that administrators, professors, and student leaders make a plan for their campus, enlist individuals to drive peer-to-peer engagement and education. It also advocates for personal and campus-wide social media platforms to encourage students to get their campus back to normal with vaccinations.
  3. Deliver vaccine access for all. The final point urges colleges to make getting a vaccine easy by offering on-campus vaccine clinics, setting up appointments at a nearby location for students, and offering paid-time off for employees getting their COVID shots. Additionally, it urges colleges to set goals, track success, and utilize data to determine what works in reaching students versus what does not.
A tweet from U.S. Department of Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, also stated that Lyft and Uber are providing free rides for anyone to and from their COVID vaccine appointment.

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States, Colleges Incentivizing Students to Get Vaccines with Scholarships

Some states are going even further than the federal government by offering students the chance to win scholarships if they get vaccinated. Ohio kicked things off in May by stating that any adults that have been vaccinated are eligible to win $1 million in the Ohio Vax-a-Million drawing. In addition to a lottery, Ohioans age 12 – 17 could be entered to win a full-ride scholarship at any Ohio-run university or college of their choice. So far, two $1 million dollar prizes have been awarded as well as two full-ride scholarships, according to Columbus’ NBC4i.com. Since then, other states have issued their own form of lottery or scholarship sweepstakes. Kentucky, West Virginia, Delaware, Illinois, and New York are encouraging students to get vaccinated by offering full-ride scholarships. In all states, students must be between the ages of 12 – 17 to win. The state of Kentucky is offering 15 scholarships, West Virginia will give five, Delaware one, , Illinois 20, and New York will award 50. Colorado is randomly selecting 25 students age 18 and under who have been vaccinated. Each winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship. The state will randomly draw a student’s name each Monday through July 5. Oregon is awarding five $100,000 scholarships to students that are vaccinated between the ages of 12 - 17. Those 18 and older will have a shot at $1 million, or 36 $10,000 prizes. Missouri plans to hold five drawings where 180 vaccinated individuals will be awarded either $10,000 in cash or $10,000 toward education savings, depending on the age of the winner. In total, the state will award 900 people. Prince Edward county in Virginia is awarding five $1,000 scholarships on August 2 for students between the ages of 12 and 18. Students that are on the younger end of the spectrum will have their scholarships held until they graduate from high school. They can apply at the time that they have been vaccinated, and if they have already received the COVID vaccine, they can apply by showing their vaccine card. Finally, students within the University of Wisconsin school systems are eligible to win scholarships for getting vaccinated. If the school system reaches a 70% vaccination rate by October 15, 70 vaccinated students will be chosen at random to win a $7,000 scholarship, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Student governments on each campus have been charged with helping to spread the message and encourage their peers to get the COVID shot as well. If their particular school reaches the 70% vaccination rate, those student government bodies will receive an extra $5,000 in funding for the school year. In addition to offering scholarships to individuals getting vaccinated, states are also incentivizing residents with million-dollar lotteries, pick-up trucks, and even guns, reports DeseretNews. Many retailers are jumping on the incentive bandwagon by providing discounts of free products to individuals who show their vaccination cards. A complete list can be found at vaccines.gov. Find state COVID vaccine scholarship details here:
  1. Colorado
  2. Delaware
  3. Illinois
  4. Kentucky
  5. Missouri
  6. New York
  7. Ohio
  8. Oregon
  9. Prince Edward County, Virginia
  10. VaxUP UW 70 for 70 Scholarship
  11. West Virginia
States and cities are continuing to work toward incentivizing citizens to get vaccinated in order to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. To see the full scope of sweepstakes and free offers that states are providing, check out the National Governor's Association.

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