Kansas outlines plan offering 9 hours of college tuition to ‘underfunded’ high school students

TOPEKA — Kansas Board of Education member Betty Arnold believes a program that gives low-income students nine credit hours of college coursework while in high school can propel more toward two- or four-year degrees — at a condition.

Arnold, who represents Wichita, Derby, Mulvane and Haysville, said the $11 million initiative being developed by the Kansas Board of Regents could make a real difference if participating high school juniors and seniors are also brought in. understand the career opportunities emerging from investments in higher education. . Lack of insight into the future, she said, often depletes students’ motivation to take the next step in education.

“A lot of students that we’re talking about reaching have no idea ‘Okay, I’m graduating. What do I do after that? A lot can be accomplished if there was a way to.’ educate students about the possibilities,” she said.

The Kansas Board of Regents has notified the State Board of Education of the proposed Kansas First/Diploma Plus plan to provide tuition and tuition grants to community colleges, technical colleges, or colleges. universities to approximately 10,000 underfunded high school students who qualify for free or reduced programs. high school lunch programs.

High school students would be enrolled in six credit hours of basic education courses such as algebra, history, composition, public speaking or sociology. The other three credit hours would be in career-oriented subjects such as biology, business, criminal justice, education, or social work.

Blake Flanders, chairman of the state Board of Regents, said the 2023 Kansas Legislative Assembly could be asked to fund $11 million for tuition and fees for these students, in addition to $1. $9 million to place counselors in high schools to work with students on college readiness. The standard rate to be paid to colleges and universities by the state under the draft proposal would be $113 per credit hour.

“I think this is the year where we really have to break through,” Flanders said. “We know that it’s not necessarily a baccalaureate for everyone. I think that’s something we need. But it’s post-secondary.

Randy Watson, commissioner of the Kansas State Department of Education, said the model could be the successful state-funded program guiding 32,000 high school students into technical education through dual high school enrollment. and in college. This program created under the administration of Governor Sam Brownback has exceeded expectations in terms of student interest.

“How can we do this? How do we meet? said Watson.

Unified advocacy by the State Board of Regents, State Board of Education, higher education institutions involved in delivering courses to high school students could form an influential lobbying coalition in the legislative session beginning in January.

Cindy Lane, a member of the State Board of Regents and former superintendent of public schools in Kansas City, Kansas, said exposing high school students to a college environment would help them develop a personal vision for higher education.

“From my perspective, it’s an opportunity gap,” Lane said. “We hear a lot about gaps in equity. It’s not about the children’s ability to do the job. It’s about not having access to opportunities to connect their dreams to that post-secondary pathway. The big idea here is that we’re going to cultivate talent.

High school students who succeed in the proposed dual enrollment initiative would be more likely to see college as a logical option, said Carter Fine, president of Hutchinson Community College.

It would shorten a student’s time to complete associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in college, he said.

Fine said the state subsidy for tuition and fees would address a major barrier to college enrollment. The current proposal would include sufficient funding for 40% of the 26,000 Kansas juniors and seniors classified as economically underfunded.

People from middle-class families struggled with tuition, he said, but people from lower-income families found it “virtually impossible” to afford a higher education.

The State Board of Regents oversees six public universities as well as community and technical colleges in Kansas. The State Board of Education has jurisdiction over K-12 districts statewide.

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