Great Minds CoMPASS Scholars

Great Minds/CoMPASS (GMC) or CoMPASS is a scholarship program for low income, academically talented, first-generation students from Worcester Public Schools (WPS) that provides orientation and navigation in attending and graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

The Great Mind CoMPASS Scholars Program Aim
  1. Increase the number of low income, academically talented, and first-generation Worcester Public School (WPS) students that apply, enroll, and graduate with a STEM B.S. degree from WPI  
  2. Financially, academically, and emotionally support CoMPASS Scholars with holistic, intentional, and research-backed programming 
  3. Develop, implement, and investigate an assets-based framework with a comprehensive mentor network and workshops that will lead to sustainable, institutional change to support students of different identities  
  4. Examine the ways in which our students navigate and experience the institution over time that influence student retention and graduation  

This project is funded by NSF's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program, which seeks to increase the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields. It also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers, and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic/career pathways of low-income students.  

How the Great Minds CoMPASS Scholars Program Works

The Great Minds Scholarship is a secondary scholarship that meets the student’s full demonstrated financial need for tuition and fees once all other merit- and need-based scholarships are assessed. The program also includes an additional $12,000 Great Minds Housing Allowance. 

A total of up to 5 scholarships are awarded every year to incoming first-year students. The scholarships are renewable for four years, provided the student maintains satisfactory academic progress and meets all other terms in the Award Conditions and Notes.

All merit-based scholarships at WPI, including the Great Minds Scholarship, are evaluated based on academic performance in high school, recommendations, leadership, extracurricular involvement, and community service.

Scholarship and Residential Experience 

  • $10k/year for 4 years to augment WPI Great Minds Scholarship (full tuition) 

  • On-campus housing (to remove barrier of needing to commute from home and family obligations) 

  • Free summer courses (to get ahead or catch up) 

  • Paid summer research experience 

Cohort-based programming

  • 10 scholars from home city of Worcester for 2 cohorts (Class of 2024 and 2025) 

  • Connections Pre-Orientation Program through the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME)  

  • Community building events each term 


  • Peer and near-peer mentoring  

  • Support team helps scholars navigate university system and finding/utilizing resources  

Why was the Great Minds Scholars Program Created?

Under the Federal Pell Grant Program, eligible students with significant financial need can receive federal grants to help pay for the cost of college.

Introduced in the 1970s, Pell grants once covered roughly 75 percent of the costs of attending a public four-year college or university, giving a significant boost to students from low-income households trying obtain a college degree. That figure has dropped to around 30 percent today.

Even when you combine the Pell Grant with need- and merit-based awards from universities, students are often left with a gap between the cost of attendance and available aid. This Great Minds Scholars Program is designed to cover the cost of attendance, up to tuition and fees.

GMC Scholars Network

GMC Scholars have a network of support at WPI designed to ensure the academic, personal, cultural, and professional success of the students.

This network of support includes but is not limited to:

Eligibility for the Great Minds Scholars Program

In order to be eligible for the Great Minds Scholarship, students must:

  • Be Pell-eligible seniors attending a Worcester Public High School, applying as first-year candidates. Eligible high schools include:

    • Claremont Academy
    • Burncoat High School
    • Doherty Memorial High School
    • North High School
    • South High Community School
    • University Park Campus School
    • Worcester Technical High School
  • Apply to WPI as a first-year student through the Common Application no later than Feb. 15, the regular decision deadline. (See all application deadlines.)
  • Students can choose whether to apply for Early Decision 1, Early Action 1, Early Decision 2, Early Action 2, or Regular Decision.
  • There is no separate application for the Great Minds Scholars Program required.
  • Fill out the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE (Profile) financial aid forms by Feb. 15. (Learn more about financial aid forms.)


Selection Process for the Great Minds Scholars Program

After WPI Admissions completes reviewing all applicants, eligible accepted students will then be reviewed for the Great Minds Scholarship.

Students selected for this program will be known as Great Minds Scholars, and will be notified no later than mid-April by email. Great Minds Scholars must make their enrollment decision by May 1 to retain the award.

Enrolling at another institution or formally declining WPI’s offer of admission will, as with any other scholarship, void the offer of the award. Great Minds Scholars interested in deferring their enrollment should read the deferral terms

GMC Scholar Social (March 2022)

GMC Scholar Social (March 2022)

There are currently twenty (20) scholars enrolled in the Great Minds/CoMPASS Scholars (GMC) program at WPI across two (2) cohorts in the Class of 2024 and the Class of 2025. These two cohorts are under a study supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant principal investigators (PI) Dr. Funmi Ayobami, Assistant Teaching Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Dr. Kathy Chen, Executive Director, STEM Education Center along with the GMC Scholar Support team is monitoring each of the students’ learning, academic outcomes, research, campus involvement, and professional development as they matriculate through WPI.

  • Additionally, these 20 scholars are provided wraparound programming support from the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME).

The CoMPASS scholarship was designed to provide additional financial support for GMC Scholars who come to WPI receiving the Great Minds Scholarship. The Great Minds Scholars program is a WPI initiative designed to meet the full demonstrated financial need, up to the cost of tuition and fees, of selected Pell-eligible students enrolled in the Worcester Public Schools who are interested in attending WPI.​

The proposal is designed to support the first-generation STEM scholars through a residential student experience with the hope of producing outcomes to enhance programs and services currently offered by WPI once the grant cycle has run its course.