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US high schooler earns ‘incredible’ $9m in scholarship offers | US education

US education

Dennis Barnes’s offers from 125 colleges and universities approach a national record

Wed 26 Apr 2023 01.00 EDT

A high school student in Louisiana has received more than $9m in scholarship offers, an amount that leaves him at least close to clinching what is believed to be a US record.

Dennis Barnes has been offered aid from 125 colleges and universities, after maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 4.98, among other academic accomplishments, at International high school in New Orleans.

Hoping to collect more than $10m in offered scholarships, he is waiting on responses from a number of the 200 colleges to which he applied, school officials said.

Barnes’s scholarship offers success rivals that of another Louisianan, Normandy Cormier. In 2019, as she prepared to graduate from Early College academy in Lafayette, Cormier received almost $9m in scholarship offers from nearly 140 schools.

Cormier told the Guardian on Tuesday aid offered to her eventually grew to $9.4m, and she sought recognition from Guinness World Records. She said Guinness told her it had not found a person with more offered scholarship money in the US, but the organization could not establish a world record because of how higher education systems differ around the globe.

A Guinness spokesperson confirmed that it does not maintain a record for most scholarship offers made to one individual. International high school officials said they had contacted the organization about recognizing Barnes.

Whatever the case, Cormier said all of that was beside the point, which was that Barnes, like her, was an example of their generation’s strong interest in advanced education.

Cormier said she hoped news of Barnes’s success could prompt other high schoolers to explore financial aid packages available across the US, especially with more than 45 million Americans owing a collective $1.7tn amid the student debt crisis.

Normandie Cormier earned $9.4m in scholarship offers in 2019. Photograph: Courtesy of Normandie Cormier

“I applaud this young man,” Cormier said. “It’s incredible.”

Barnes is a National Honor Society president, his fluency in Spanish earning both a diploma granted by Spain’s educational, cultural and sports ministry and an award from the honorary Spanish consul in New Orleans. He started pursuing college credits through a dual enrollment program offered by Southern University at New Orleans, a local historically Black institution, school officials said.

Barnes began applying to universities last August, with help from his school’s college counselor. It set off what he described as an overflow of decision letters.

In the statement from International high, Barnes said he planned to announce where he would go to college on May 2.

After his 24 May graduation ceremony, he hopes to pursue a dual degree in computer science and criminal justice.

He offered this advice to university applicants: “The road to a successful future is to plan ahead, network with the collegiate partners, and know that if you can see your vision, you can achieve your goal.”

Cormier said she is completing a master’s degree at Louisiana State University. She said she now lives in New Orleans after completing her undergraduate studies in the city at Xavier University of Louisiana, another historically Black institution.

Cormier runs a company named XollegePass, dedicated to helping students find scholarships and attend college debt-free.

“I hope [Barnes’s] story, along with mine, inspire students to exceed expectations, reach beyond the stars, and explore all opportunities for a debt-free education,” Cormier said.

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