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When awarding college scholarships to high school seniors in three states, American General Life and Accident Insurance Co. will look more for good deeds than good grades.

The "Character Stars" program will grant a total of $54,500 worth of scholarships to students in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. The Nashville, Tenn.-based company started the program this year to emphasize the importance of traits such as trustworthiness, responsibility, and good citizenship, said Joe Kelley, the company's president and chief executive officer.

"We feel there are many students whose grades may not put them at the top of their class, but who deserve to be recognized because their personal character reflects the best qualities to which men and women should aspire," Mr. Kelley said in a prepared statement.

In addition to a $1,500 scholarship, top award-winners in each state will participate in a three-day career-experience program that will match them with various distinguished officials in their fields of interest.

In order to qualify for the program, students must have family incomes below $50,000, average or above-average standardized-test scores, and academic records that place them in the top third of the senior class. Character will be measured through extracurricular involvement, recommendations, and a personal essay.

Winners will be announced in April.

A coalition of private colleges and universities in Florida and the Coca-Cola Foundation recently formed a scholarship program for students who will be the first in their families to attend college.

The Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship Program will award one $5,000 scholarship every year at 22 different colleges and universities in Florida. The scholarships will include a $2,500 contribution from the Coca-Cola Foundation, with matching funds from member schools of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.

The program hopes to help community college students who wish to transfer to four-year colleges, as well as high school graduates, said Kim Price, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based foundation. It is the third first-generation scholarship program supported by the Coca-Cola Foundation.

By not being limited to students who come from a specific socio-economic background or minority group, first-generation scholarships make college more accessible to a wider range of students, Ms. Price said.

--JESSICA L.SANDHAM [email protected]

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