Nine area high schools are among 32 selected to share $1.1 million in grants to increase student aspirations and college attendance.

Mount Blue High School in Farmington, Telstar High School in Bethel and Dirigo High School in Dixfield will receive up to $65,000 over three years.

Mount Abram Regional High School in Strong and Rangeley Lakes Regional School will share up to $65,000 over three years.

Gray-New Gloucester High School, Lisbon High School, Mount Ararat High School in Topsham and Poland Regional High School will receive up to $20,000 over two years.

The MELMAC Education Foundation, a two-year-old group that gives grants to advance education in Maine, announced the awards Wednesday.

To be eligible, each high school agreed to use the money to raise student goals or boost the number of graduates who go on to college.

In Maine, recent studies have shown that only 55 percent of high school graduates go on to college and only 25 percent of residents have a four-year degree.

Some of the nine area high schools plan to change that by using their grant money to take kids to visit area colleges, work with parents of incoming high school freshmen or hire an extra guidance counselor. Five of the high schools will work with community groups during their project.

In order to get the grant money, all 32 high schools had to agree to meet with new graduates over the summer to make sure that those who say they are going to college actually follow through. They also had to agree to give the Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, to all of their sophomores or seniors to prepare them for the actual SAT.

The foundation said it will pay for the test if students can’t.

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