KENTUCKY (4/14/13) - Fourteen years ago, the Kentucky General Assembly made an important decision to dedicate Kentucky Lottery proceeds to specific college grant, scholarship and literacy programs. That decision has paid off for Kentucky students and the institutions they choose to attend.
Last fiscal year alone, 1,154 grants and scholarships totaling $1,741,795 were awarded to students in House District 15 through the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES), College Access Program (CAP) grants, and Kentucky Tuition Grants (KTG) programs operated by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, or KHEAA. Of those, 657 grants and scholarships worth $980,388 went to students in Muhlenberg County, 1,192 grants and scholarships worth $1.9 million went to students in Hopkins County, and 1,259 grants and scholarships worth $1.9 went to students in Christian County.
That is an impressive tally by any standard, made more so by the fact that this investment has occurred despite a lingering recession that has slowed state budget expenditures in nearly every area except those areas protected by dedicated funding.
And this investment is not new. The Fiscal Year 2012 awards are just the latest KEES, CAP, and KTG funds distributed annually among students in our three counties since state lottery proceeds were directed to the programs in 1999. Total grant and scholarships awards, by county, over the past 14 years totals a whopping $13.6 million for students in Muhlenberg County, $21.1 million for students in Hopkins County, and $20.6 million for Christian County students.
What about statewide? On that level, nearly 118,000 grants and scholarships were funded with Kentucky Lottery proceeds worth $187.9 million last year--a fraction of the more than 1,419,000 grants and scholarships worth over $1.8 billion that have been funded with Lottery proceeds since 1999. (This is in addition to the $732.5 million that the Kentucky Lottery contributed to the state General fund over the 14-year period.)
Colleges, universities, and vocational schools also benefit from dedicated Lottery funding, of course. Four-year and two-year postsecondary institutions in every corner of the state have students enrolled who are recipients of KEES, CAP, or KTG awards. Just last fiscal year here at home, a total of 844 grants and scholarships totaling $973,529 were used at Hopkinsville Community College while 1,191 grants and scholarships with a total worth of $1.4 million went to Madisonville Community and Technical College.
These institutions and the Kentuckians they serve who have benefited from the grant and scholarship programs might not be doing as well were it not for the Kentucky Lottery, to be quite honest. Students have money to attend school and institutions have increasing enrollment, at least in part, because of the 1998 Kentucky General Assembly’s decision to dedicate Lottery proceeds to the programs and literacy programs.
Kentucky Lottery President and CEO Arch Gleason himself reported in a letter to each state legislator in Feb. that “...since the start of the Kentucky Lottery-funded scholarship and grant programs, college attendance in the Commonwealth has jumped more than 40 percent.”
One great benefit of the grants and scholarships, especially KEES--which have been earned by slightly less than 90 percent of certified Kentucky high school graduates since 2004--is their impact on increasing the number of first generation college students in Kentucky. A recent study undertaken by Kentucky legislative staff explains that, while keeping the state’s “best and brightest” students in Kentucky to attend college or university is one goal of KEES, another is to increase access to higher education. Eligibility requirements for KEES were designed a little lower than similar programs in other states, the study explains, because of “a great concern about access” along with “a desire with the implementation of KEES to inspire students to do better in high school.” That explains the high percentage of earned KEES awards and, likewise, the roll KEES has played in beefing up enrollment at Kentucky’s postsecondary schools.
The study also points out that KEES eligibility allows “significant numbers of disadvantaged students who may not have seriously considered pursuing postsecondary education” to do so, and that is a great benefit. And the better-performing student has the opportunity to earn more awards for each additional level of performance, which helps keep KEES competitive.
I was so pleased to see how well the programs are doing under the dedicated funding of our Kentucky Lottery. And, like most of you, I hope that tomorrow’s Kentucky leaders are not only educated in the Commonwealth but stay here to make our state a better place for all.
Have a great week.
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