Education bills dealing with scholarship funds and the Kentucky Board of Education move forward

A bill that would require high school students to complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form before graduation passed through the House Education Committee Tuesday.

House Bill 253, sponsored by Rep. Regina Huff, aims to improve access to higher education by providing awareness of costs and opportunities for aid when students consider continuing their education after high school.

Kentucky Chamber Director of Political Affairs Travis Burton told the committee as Kentucky seeks to rebuild its economy and strengthen its workforce, addressing postsecondary affordability to ensure educational attainment is crucial.

“This issue was important before the pandemic and is even more critical now,” Burton said.

Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education President Aaron Thompson said more than $40 million in scholarship funds are left on the table each year, and the issue must be addressed, citing higher education as the key to growing the economy through a stronger workforce.

Legislation to change the makeup of the Kentucky Board of Education also moved forward Tuesday after passing the committee with all yes votes and one pass vote.

House Bill 178, sponsored by Rep. Steve Sheldon, seeks to bring balance and stability to the Kentucky Board of Education by requiring board appointments reflect equal gender representation and proportionally reflect the Commonwealth’s political affiliation and minority racial composition.

House Bill 338 was also approved by the committee, which adds proprietary institutions to Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) eligible institutions.

Sponsored by Rep. William Lawrence, HB 338 would allow students to use KEES money toward institutions such as the Kentucky Welding Institute.

“I’ve had students ask, ‘Can we use the KEES money that we’ve earned through our hard work over the last four years toward the Kentucky Welding Institute?’” said Adam Hinton, Vice President of Hinton Mills and Director at the Kentucky Welding Institute. “And right now, the answer to that question is no, and this bill seeks to change that.”

House Bills 253, 178, 235, and 338 all now move to the House floor for a vote.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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