New bill could guarantee scholarship funds to Kansas university students

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — University students in Kansas could get the opportunity to have their first two years of college paid for with scholarship funds proposed in a new Senate bill.

Lawmakers held a hearing in a Senate Education committee Monday to discuss Senate Bill 43 .

The bill creates the Kansas promise scholarship act to provide postsecondary educational scholarships for certain two-year associate degree programs, career and technical education certificates.

“Your potential of making more money in your lifetime is highly increased by the more education you have, so, if you have an associate degree or if you have a 2-year degree, then that raises your opportunities for income,” said Sen. Pat Pettey, D-Kansas City.

The bill promises scholarships to residents of Kansas, who are high school graduates or returning to university. In order to be eligible, students must study one of the following areas that education researchers have determined to be high-demand areas of study, or areas in need of more workers.

Those areas include information technology and security, physical and mental healthcare, or advanced manufacturing and building trades.

Lawmakers say the bill is a step in the right direction for building the state’s workforce, while providing more opportunity to students in need.

“We provide a benefit to the individual who just can’t afford with everything else that’s going on in their lives to go back to school,” said Sen. Brenda Dietrich, R-Topeka, as she spoke about the increased amount of families facing financial struggles during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill is estimated to require about $26 million in tax dollars, but lawmakers said the bill has a good chance of making it out of committee to be debated on the Senate floor.

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