Funding for Work Ready scholarship program approved in committee

03/15/2018 02:46 PM

FRANKFORT – The Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship program has been effective in allowing Kentuckians to learn useful job skills to build a career, and a bill Thursday to continue funding for that program was unanimously passed by the Senate Standing Committee on Education.

Senate Bill 231, sponsored by Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, would require the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) to administer the scholarship in collaboration with the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The amount awarded to any one student equals the maximum amount minus federal and state grants and scholarships. The maximum amount cannot exceed the in‐state tuition and fees rate for full‐time enrollment at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which is $4,080 for the 2017‐2018 year.

Wayne Lewis, executive director of Education Policies and Programs in the Education Workforce Development Cabinet told committee members that the program has helped in preparing a numerous young Kentuckians for meaningful and successful careers.

“The idea here is to get funds available to Kentuckians to pursue short term credentials, certificates or diplomas, in Kentucky’s top five high demand sectors,” Smith said. “Those are in advanced manufacturing, business and IT, construction and trades, healthcare and transportation and logistics.”

While voting in favor of the bill, Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, questioned KHEAA Executive Director Gene Hutchins about why the program limits scholarships to just five designated career choices.

“I’m troubled now that we’re going to use state money now to identify those careers that we think are important for people to pursue,” Thomas said. “I have nothing wrong with advanced technology, or healthcare, I think those are marvelous fields to go in to, but I will submit to this committee that there’s nothing wrong either to go into teaching as a profession or pursuing journalism as a profession. I’m troubled with this limitation of who we are going to educate using state dollars.”

The scholarship expires when the first of the following conditions is met; receipt of scholarship funding for the equivalent of four academic terms; receipt of the scholarship for 32 credit hours of enrollment; or receipt of a first associate’s degree

Recipients must earn a grade point average of 2.0 or higher each semester the scholarship is received in order to be eligible the following semester.

SB 231 moves on to the full House for consideration.

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