Kentucky looks to join the free community college trend

Investing in students is investing in the economy, says representative

Kentucky students may soon attend community college tuition free.

Last week, a bill passed the state House of Representatives providing last-dollar tuition assistance to students who graduate from local high schools or home schools, or who earn GEDs there.

The "Work Ready" scholarship bill would require students to first apply for student aid and then bridge the gap between whatever they receive and the tuition cost for up to six semesters, provided each student maintains at least a 2.0 GPA and takes 12 credits per semester.  

However, some Republican lawmakers argue the GPA requirement should be raised to 2.5—the same level as necessary to receive a Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship.

"If we have low expectations, our children will rise to where we expect them to," Rep. Jim DuPlessis (R) says.

The program—should the bill become law—is projected to aid 15,000 to 18,000 students in its first year and cost about $20 million annually.

"It's a lot of money but think of the bang you get for the dollar," says House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D), the bill's sponsor.

Investing in the students will generate economic activity, says Rep. Tommy Thompson (D) (Gerth, The Courier-Journal, 3/18). 

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