INDIANAPOLIS — More than 40,000 students have been automatically enrolled in the 2027 cohort of the 21st Century Scholars program, according to an announcement on Wednesday from the office of Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

According to a news release from Holcomb’s office, the 40,000 in the 2027 cohort is an increase from 20,000 in the previous cohort. The scholarship through the program covers up to full tuition and fees at Indiana colleges and universities for students from low-income backgrounds.

“Indiana’s workforce depends on a skilled talent pipeline,” Holcomb said in the release. “For over 30 years, the 21st Century Scholarship has played a transformative role in getting more Hoosiers prepared to enroll and succeed in college. Automatically enrolling income-eligible students into this life-changing program will lead to greater levels of educational attainment, stronger communities, and a globally competitive workforce.”

This comes after HEA 1449-2023 was signed into law earlier this year. The bill expanded the program, helping identify students who meet the requirements to participate in the program and automatically enroll all financially elligible students into the program.

The commission said in the release that more than 20,000 additional students are expected to be enrolled in the program for each eighth grade class. Officials said that students who are automatically enrolled “must still meet subsequent requirements to obtain the scholarship.”

“This legislation will ensure higher rates of equity for Hoosier students from all walks of life and help more Indiana students achieve a higher education and all the blessings that come with it,” State Rep. Earl Harris Jr. said in the release. “Helping students get enrolled in the 21st Century Scholars program will not just help individual students and their families, but the state as a whole by helping us build a skilled, 21st Century economy. This bill is a testament to the good that can happen when lawmakers work together for the benefit of their constituents, and I look forward to seeing the impacts of this bipartisan piece of legislation for generations to come.”

Since the program started, officials said that more than 50,000 students have earned a college degree through the program, according to the release.