More than 11,000 Houston area graduating high school seniors have had the honor of being named a Jones Scholar through the Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Scholars Program. When Houston Endowment initiated the program in 1958, four Jones Scholars were selected from each of the high school graduating classes in the Houston Independent School District. In 1959, the program was expanded to include districts contiguous to the Houston Independent School District. Later, it grew to include all school districts within Harris County. Since the program’s inception, Houston Endowment has provided almost $97 million to help 11,144 Jones Scholars attend college.
Seniors attending most Harris County public schools can apply to become a Jones Scholar and should see their college counselor for an application. Candidates are nominated by each participating high school, and a Rotary Club of Houston committee makes the final selection based on academic achievement, economic need, leadership skills, community service and character.
In 2010, new guidelines, which differ substantially from those previously in effect, were instituted to provide flexibility to Scholars in meeting their financial need. Under the new guidelines, the Jones Scholars Program has become a need-based program. Jones Scholars are eligible to receive up to a total of $16,000 over six academic years toward a college education. Payments are based on an annual calculation of unmet need before loans and are limited to $5,000 annually. The new guidelines offer Scholars the ability to adjust the amount they request from their Jones Scholar award each year, including flexibility in requesting funds for summer school. This will enable Scholars to maximize their total financial aid package during their undergraduate studies.
These new guidelines apply to all Scholars graduating from high school in 2011 and after, and to 2010 Scholars who elected to participate under the new guidelines.