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New Kansas scholarship offers free community college for students in sought after fields

The scholarship is designed to keep skilled workers in the state after they complete their talent program.

Posted: Sep 24, 2021 4:07 PM
Updated: Sep 25, 2021 4:03 PM

(ATCHISON, Ks.) A new scholarship in Kansas is giving community college students in high-demand fields a free education. 

The Kansas Promise Scholarship incentivizes students to develop skills in desirable occupations at community colleges and technical colleges by paying for students tuition, books and required program materials and requiring them to stay and work in the state for two years post graduation. 

The $10 million scholarship was signed into law this April by Governor Laura Kelly. The scholarship is designed to keep skilled workers in the state after they complete their talent program. 

"It is a big push by the state of Kansas because we have a shortage of workers in general, but a real shortage in trained workers. So, this scholarship really puts the onus on not only do we want to train you here, but we want you to stay and work here in the state of Kansas," said Lucas Hunziger, Dean of Highland Community College Technical Center.

If students do not live and work in Kansas for two years following graduation, the state said students must repay the scholarship money plus interest. 

Eligible colleges throughout Kansas are participating in the scholarship, including Highland Community College Technical Center. 

Some 20 students are enrolled in the scholarship this semester, according to Dean of the technical center, Lucas Hunziger. 

Hunziger said, "This scholarship also includes some dollars that can pay for the tools that are required for their trade and training. So, not only are they receiving the education, but the equipment that they need to be trained as well. So, it’s a great opportunity as well.”

Eligible programs must fall into four areas: information technology and security; mental and physical health care; advanced manufacturing and building trades; or early childhood education and development.

10 of the 14 programs offered at Highland Community College Technical Center are eligible for the scholarship and 5 of the 6 programs at the Western campus in Baileyville are also eligible. 

Students must apply for FAFSA to be considered for the scholarship. 

Eligible students must be a Kansas resident with a GED or high school diploma or be at least 21-years-old and have lived in the state for three years. There's also some exceptions for children of military members.  

Hunziger said the scholarship paves the way for more people to receive a quality education they wouldn't be able to otherwise and beef up the state's trained worker shortage. He said it's a win-win. 

“I believe this removes a lot of barriers for students who may have financial concerns, who just don't have the means to come to school,” said Hunziger, “We’ve been encouraging students to take advantage of this opportunity to come out of school debt free, hop right into their field and help make Kansas a better place to be.”

For more information on eligible programs and requirements, click here. 

To apply for 'The Kansas Promise Scholarship,' click here. 

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