Scholarships offered through the KEES program truly have been a key to success for many Kentucky students and provided financial relief for their families.
The KEES program, established in 1998, provides scholarships to students who earn at least a 2.5 GPA each year of attendance at a certified Kentucky high school. The better you do in school, the more you can earn toward college. It also offers bonus awards based on ACT/SAT scores and other factors including Advanced Placement courses.
KEES awards are available for a maximum of eight academic terms and must be used toward attainment of a baccalaureate degree or within years of high school graduation at a participating college or university in the state.
Funding through proceeds from the Kentucky Lottery, it has helped Kentucky achieve goals toward increase its college education rates and been a positive impact for many residents.
The system works well — for traditional students interested in an undergraduate degree.
State Rep. Jim DuPlessis wants to see it work better. He’s been lobbying to see it also available for vocational programs or focused exclusively on community college opportunities if that suits the students’ career objectives.
The KEES scholarship is not needs based, it’s performance based,” he said. “Let’s first do it for anybody who wants to go to community college. Let’s send them and all the money that’s left over, and there will be a lot of money left over, can go to performance based for everybody else.”
The idea comes with a $15 million anticipated price tag but DuPlessis sees that as doable considering that $300 million currently is awarded annually through KEES scholarship.
A Republican now serving his final term in the General Assembly, DuPlessis sees this revision as a game changer.
“If you look at the really poor in our society and those who would like to take a skilled trade job, if we could extend them with a full scholarship instead of a partial scholarship, we might get a lot more folks trained and we might get a lot less falling into crime and jail if we get more educated,” he said.
Gov. Andy Beshear prioritized many educational matters in his budget in hopes of building a brighter future for Kentuckian. This adjustment to a system that has broad support and a proven track record is worthy of greater consideration.
This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.