It is back to school time, and thousands of Kentucky parents and students are staring down college tuition bills, while others are beginning to lay the groundwork as their students enter their senior year.
Over the next few weeks, I thought I might share a few updates on different scholarship and financial assistance programs that can help those who are going the traditional college route, as well as those who plan to pursue a career with a trade school education.
From 1980 to the 2019-2020 school year, college tuition increased by 180%. With Kentucky coming in 35th for four-year college graduation rates, it is crucial we give people the incentive to attend university if they want to. Attending university may seem like a necessity of the 21st century, but other avenues to a great and prosperous life exist. However, if a student does wish to attend university and excels academically in high school, incentives and scholarships are available.
Approximately 87% of high school graduates in Kentucky have earned money through the KEES program. KEES’ eligibility requirements are less stringent for students compared to other scholarships which results in more students receiving assistance. Students who are most likely to benefit from KEES are students who are not likely to attend university without the financial incentive KEES offers.
But, what exactly is KEES money, and how it is funded?
The Commonwealth Merit Scholarship, later changed to the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship, was created by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1998. The amount a high school student can earn from KEES is determined by his or her annual school year grade-point average. Awards and bonuses are also based on a student’s ACT composite score and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.
The Kentucky lottery funds the KEES program. The Kentucky lottery was established in 1989 after 60% of voters cast ballots in November 1988 stating they were in favor of its creation. With the creation of the lottery, the profits would go toward funding scholarships for the KEES program. KEES has awarded over $4 billion in funding since 1999, and every dime has come from the profits of the Kentucky lottery.
The legislature is continuing to work on expanding the use of KEES money to include pathways for students who do not wish to attend a traditional college or university, but still wish to pursue post-secondary instruction. This continues to be an area we are working on.
I encourage you to keep up to date with legislative happenings during this interim, and as always, feel free to contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like more information, please visit the LRC website legislature.ky.gov.
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