More than half of Carson High School's senior class will qualify for Millennium Scholarships, which is worth up to $10,000, if they maintain their current grades.
In Douglas County, school officials reported that 42 percent of seniors qualify so far, and 23 percent of seniors in Storey County meet the requirements. Dayton High School figures weren't available.
"I know a number of those kids that were thinking about doing something else before going to college are now thinking about jumping right in," said Tim McCarthy, a guidance counselor at Carson High. "However, they do have to finish strong, also."
Of 448 Carson High seniors, 240 would qualify for the scholarships now.
In order to be eligible for a Millennium Scholarship, students must maintain a minimum of a B average, pass proficiency exams, graduate after May 1, 2000, and have been a Nevada resident for at least two years.
Students must also attend a university or community college in Nevada to get the scholarship.
"We now have good students who are interested in staying in the state," said Toni Covault, guidance counselor at Whittell High School. "For the first time, we're keeping our best students."
The Millennium Scholarship, funded by the state's share of a multibillion-dollar national settlement with the U.S. tobacco companies over smoking-related health-care costs, is Gov. Kenny Guinn's plan to motivate college-bound Nevada students to stay at home.
Students are not required to fill out an applicatio. They will be placed automatically on an eligibility list by their school district. The final lists will be available after graduation in June.
Millennium Scholars at a university will receive $80 per credit hour and those enrolled in a community college will receive $40 per credit hour. University students will be required to take a minimum of 12 credits per fall and spring semester, and community college students will be required to enroll in at least six credits to get the scholarship money.
Recipients will also be required to maintain a C average to continue to receive the scholarship, which will be available for up to eight years after high school graduation.
McCarthy said he is pleased with the number of Carson High students who are so far eligible for the scholarship.
"Overall, I think it's great that that many kids qualify," McCarthy said.
Covault said the size of the school was one of the reasons 38 percent of Whittell High School seniors meet the scholarship requirements.
"Since we're a small school, we don't have many electives to choose from," she said. "Our kids are basically pushed into an academic schedule."
In Clark County, 3,200 students already have the grades and proficiency test scores to qualify for the scholarships out of about 11,000 seniors.
"There's definitely an advantage to being in the class of 2000," said Tanyiel Nash, a 17-year-old about to graduate from Valley High School. "I didn't really think college was an option for me until this happened."