FRANKFORT – Kentucky House leaders and House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Rick Rand joined with KCTCS President Jay K. Box and other school officials on Wednesday to unveil far-reaching legislation that, after taking state and federal aid into account, would provide free tuition for graduating high school students attending the state’s community and technical colleges. The initiative would be known as the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program.
“It has been nearly 20 years since we have seen an idea that could have as big an impact as this one on postsecondary education,” House Speaker Greg Stumbo said. “If enacted, it would put a two-year college degree within easy reach of every graduating high school student. This is a game-changer for families worried about the cost of tuition and for businesses that say that they cannot find enough trained workers. I don’t think we can afford NOT to do this, if we want to build on the many gains we have seen at our colleges and universities.”
“As important as it is to invest in new and improved facilities, it is more important that we invest first in those who will be using them,” Rep. Rand said. “KCTCS has played a critical role in training our current workforce, and this legislation will make it easier for these schools, and those they serve, to do even more.”
“We know there are a number of high school students who still feel like higher education is out of reach,” KCTCS President Jay K. Box said. “This program will help to eliminate the financial barriers and allow them to achieve the Kentucky dream of a getting a higher education that leads to a good job that will improve lives of their families.”
Under House Bill 626, all full-time high school students who graduate from a Kentucky high school – or have their GED before turning 19 – would be potentially eligible for the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program, beginning this fall.
This scholarship would apply only if there is a gap remaining after taking into account all state and federal grants and scholarships like KEES, which students earn in high school with good grades. Student loans or money received through work-study programs would not be factors in determining the scholarship size. In addition, this scholarship could not be used for books or other related college costs, such as travel or housing.
Students would apply during their senior year in high school, and they would have to qualify for in-state tuition. They would also be required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); take at least 12 college credit hours per semester; maintain at least a 2.0 GPA; and stay enrolled continuously, unless an absence of up to six months is approved under the bill’s guidelines.
Eligibility for the scholarship would end once the student has received money for six semesters; has an associate’s degree; or is four years removed from high school.
The program will be administered through the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA).