FRANKFORT— In today’s political world, a bill rarely passes through the House by a large vote, but that is exactly what happened on March 17 at the Kentucky General Assembly with House Bill 626. This bill, which calls for high school graduates to receive two years of free tuition at a state community college, earned a final vote of 86 in favor and 11 opposed on the House floor.
House Bill 626 will function by creating what legislators refer to as the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program. This scholarship can be used for tuition at schools within the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), and will be available to all high school graduates and G.E.D. recipients in the commonwealth of Kentucky, who are under the age of 19, properly complete applications for financial aid, enroll in at least 12 credit hours per semester and maintain a cumulative G.P.A. of 2.0 or higher.
The Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program acts as a “fill in the gap” service to students. In other words, students will be required to seek financial aid assistance and scholarships separate from what is offered through the Work Ready Scholarship Program, then the state will pay whatever remains in that student’s tuition after other financial assistance is obtained.
The program’s estimated cost is $13 million for the first year and nearly $20 million in the second year. All that remains for House Bill 626 to become law is passage of the budget by the Kentucky Senate. If everything with the budget passes according to plan, the first scholarships in the program will be available for students in the fall of this year.
Hazard Community and Technical College is part of KCTCS and could benefit in terms of enrollment from the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program. The Kentucky General Assembly will remain in session through the first half of April.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.