The Delaware Department of Education will award 299 Michael C. Ferguson scholarships of $1,000 each to 284 students statewide who attained high scores on the 2013 Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) reading and mathematics tests in grades 8 and 10.

Six eighth grade students earned two scholarships, and 138 earned one scholarship. In the 10th grade, nine students earned two scholarships, and 131 students earned one scholarship.

“Through hard work and perseverance, these students have exceled,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said. “I congratulate them and am glad that, through these scholarships, the state can support their continued studies.”

The scholarship program was included in the Educational Accountability Act of 1998 and is funded by Delaware’s General Assembly. It is named in memory of Michael C. Ferguson, former deputy superintendent and acting superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction and former state budget director. Since this program began 14 years ago, more than 4,815 public school students have been awarded more than $6.4 million in scholarships.

The 2013 program is authorized to award a maximum of 300 scholarships of $1,000 to eighth and 10th grade students who attain the highest scores on the DCAS in the content areas of reading and mathematics. The law states that up to 150 of the Ferguson scholarships will be awarded to students who participate in the free and reduced lunch (FRL) program. Of the maximum 150 scholarships awarded in the FRL program and the 150 not in FRL, up to 75 scholarships will be awarded to eighth graders and 75 awarded to 10th graders.

Students can use their scholarship once they begin their postsecondary education; however, they must enroll at an institution within five calendar years after graduating from high school or the scholarship is forfeited. Recipients may have one additional year of availability of the funds for each year they serve as an active duty member of the military. Payments are made directly to the institution after the student notifies the department’s Higher Education Office. The award can be used at regionally or nationally accredited postsecondary institutions or at Delaware- or other state-approved private business and trade schools in the United States. The award cannot exceed direct educational costs.

The Higher Education Office contacts each recipient with instructions for setting up an online account where they can keep track of their scholarship funds, update contact information as needed and identify the college they plan to attend. Recipients can use the same account to access other state-sponsored financial aid programs administered by the Higher Education Office.

A complete list of this year’s Michael C. Ferguson Achievement Award recipients can be found on the Higher Education Office’s website.