T he University of Colorado announced Wednesday that starting in the fall of 2013, it will give scholarships to in-state freshmen with qualifying grade point averages and test scores in hopes of enrolling more of Colorado's top students.

Per student, the scholarships will total between $10,000 and $20,000 over four years.

Kevin MacLennan, CU's director of admissions, said the program is an attempt to attract Colorado's "best of the best" high school seniors to the Boulder campus and compete with national recruiters.

"Our main goal has two components: to attract the most academically talented and diverse freshmen classes we possibly can," MacLennan said.

MacLennan said the program is not a direct response to the 1.7 percent dip in overall this year that university officials said in September was a result of increased recruiting by out-of-state colleges, which were cherry-picking Colorado's best students.

"It's not specifically in response to that, but college admissions in today's national and state arena is incredibly competitive," he said. "We want to send a clear message that we value and appreciate their hard work in classroom."

University spokeswoman Malinda Miller-Huey said the program has been under discussion for a few years but just came together this year after hashing out some final details.

Students must submit their application for admission by Jan. 15 and be a Colorado resident with a GPA of at least 3.8 and an ACT score of at least 30 or a SAT score of at least 1240 to be eligible for one of the three levels of scholarships in the Esteemed Scholars Program. The higher the GPA and test score, the more money students are awarded. All freshmen applying to the university will be automatically considered for the scholarships; there is no additional application. Eligible freshmen will be awarded one of the scholarships, which are named after CU's first three presidents, based on their GPA and test scores.

Based on the eligibility of the fall 2012 freshmen class, they're expecting to award the new scholarships to about 20 percent of in-state freshmen for the fall of 2013, MacLennan said.

"About 43 percent of current in-state freshmen have a 3.8 or higher GPA," MacLennan said. "That percentage drops to about 20 when you take the test scores into consideration. Those are pretty high test scores."

The program is the first of its kind in Colorado, Miller-Huey said, and adds appeal to the campus for residents considering their options.

Miller-Huey said the school plans to continue the program beyond fall 2013 and is currently looking for funding sources to support the program, possibly donors or an increase in the general fund. For now, the money will come out of the general fund's temporary funding for initiatives, she said.

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