A new bill passed under the Kentucky House of Representatives on Thursday just made it a lot easier for students to go to college.
The bill allows any student who graduates in Kentucky with their GED to go to community college free of charge.
House Bill 626 requires students to apply for financial aid, having the state pay the difference between that and their tuition for a maximum of two years. Students are required to take 12 credit hours each semester and maintain a GPA of 2.0.
Referred to as the “Work Ready” scholarship bill, it would cover up to six semesters in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
In terms of costs, Prestonburg Democrat Greg Stumbo said the legislation would cost around $20 million per year, helping around 15,000 students.
It’s a lot of money, but think of the bang you get for the dollar, Stumbo explained.
It’s more of an investment that will hopefully pay itself off later, and in turn, generate wealth in the state of Kentucky in terms of well-paying jobs.
Rep. Tommy Thompson thinks the bill is a great idea, saying it will ultimately help educate more students and bring higher paying jobs into the state of Kentucky.
They’re going to start generating economic activity in our state because we invested in them, Thompson explained.
The bill did meet some backlash from Republicans, the main issue being the 2.0 GPA requirement required to obtain funding. Republican legislators believe the minimum GPA should be raised to at least a 2.5, which the level required to keep a Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship (KEES).
Some legislators believe raising the minimum GPA would place some pressure on students to work harder, as Rep. Jim DuPlessis explains:
If we have low expectations, our children will rise to where we expect them to.
Although people like Rep. DuPlessis aren’t keeping in mind that the bill may help students who otherwise haven’t planned on going to college due to financial reasons, and maybe aren’t used to applying themselves.
The bill passed 86-11, with just a few Republicans opposing it. The opposition included:
Lynn Bechler, of Marion; Robert Benvenuti, of Lexington; Joe Fischer, of Fort Thomas; David Floyd, of Bardstown; Thomas Kerr, of Taylor Mill; Adam Koenig, of Erlanger; Stan Lee, of Lexington; Jerry Miller, of Louisville; Phil Moffett, of Louisville; Sal Santoro, of Florence; and Russell Webber, of Shepherdsville.
If you’re unfamiliar with President Obama’s plans to implement free community college tuition, take a look at this clip from the beginning of 2015 for more information. Watch below via YouTube: