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Remove felony ban from KEES scholarship

By Erinn Broadus

One of the most important indicators of the economic health of state is the percentage of its population with a college degree. Unfortunately, Kentucky has historically had an exceptionally low college attainment rate.

In fact, a 2020 Wallethub ranking placed Kentucky 47th in the nation for the percentage of the population with bachelor’s degrees. Only 53 percent of Kentucky high school graduates enrolled in postsecondary education one year after high school, far below the national average of 69%. An individual’s decision to not pursue education after high school hinders both individuals and the state economy as a whole.

A Brookings institute report found that Americans who do not attend college constitute a larger percentage of the pool of people living below the poverty line than those with a postsecondary degree. This outcome can be attributed to a shift in the labor market, which now prioritizes workers with advanced education rather than low-skilled manual laborers. In Kentucky, the percentages of the population that are unemployed or on Medicaid have grown in almost every county in the state—two figures that would likely improve if Kentuckians had more access to affordable higher education.

A considerable roadblock for many Kentuckians in attaining a college degree is paying for it. The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority estimates that one year at a Kentucky public university costs a student $19,635. For private nonprofit colleges and universities, the cost is even greater—$32,416. For many Kentuckians, a main lifeline for affording an advanced degree are scholarships, which can offset considerable chunks of the cost. In Kentucky, one of the main scholarships available to students is the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES). KEES funding is available to high school students, home schooled students, and GED graduates. Funding is allocated based on a student’s grades, GPA, and test scores.

Continue reading this piece on Kentucky Today

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