Gives coal county college students financial boost
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (Dec. 18, 2014) — Two-and-a-half years after creating a pilot scholarship program to help college students in eastern Kentucky complete their bachelor’s degree close to home, Gov. Steve Beshear today ceremonially signed House Bill 2, legislation that permanently extends Kentucky Coal County College Completion Program, the scholarship program to all coal counties.
“Giving college students the tools they need to complete their degree has been a top priority of my administration,” Beshear said today at the University of Pikeville. “House Bill 2 is a major step forward in achieving that goal, especially in those areas of the state where access and affordability are difficult hurdles for many to overcome. We’re already seeing this legislation have an impact, with eastern Kentucky leading the way.”
Joining Beshear at the signing were the bill’s sponsor, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, of Prestonsburg; UPIKE President Dr. James Hurley; former Governor and current UPIKE Chancellor Paul Patton; and Jared Arnett, the executive director for SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region).
The General Assembly passed HB 2 unanimously during this year’s legislative session. It expands the initial nine-county pilot program Beshear authorized in 2012 to all 34 coal-producing counties. The current two-year budget provides $2 million annually in Multi-County Coal Severance funds, which will provide up to 500 scholarships each year. In the pilot program’s first year, nearly 100 participating students completed their bachelor’s degree.
and I am convinced that this law will pay dividends for generations to come.”
Students have to meet several criteria to be eligible for the Kentucky Coal County College Completion Program scholarship, including:
- Living in a coal-producing county at least a year
- Having completed at least 60 college credit hours
- Being enrolled at least half-time in upper-level courses at a qualifying postsecondary school that is either based in a coal-producing county or has a satellite campus there.
The amount of each grant varies, depending on how much financial aid the student already receives. The most a student can receive a year is $6,800 to attend a nonprofit, independent four-year college and $2,300 to attend a satellite campus of a public four-year university or a regional postsecondary center. There is also money available if the student’s degree program is not available in a coal-producing county.
In addition, the law includes authority for grants to KCTCS schools in the coal regions to expand their student outreach, advising, retention, and transfer initiatives.