FRANKFORT—A bill approved Thursday by the House Education Committee would create a scholarship and grant program to help college juniors and seniors from Kentucky’s coal counties attain four-year college degrees. House Bill 210, introduced and sponsored by Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, would offer scholarships to students from the state’s 34 coal-producing counties in eastern and western Kentucky who attend school in those counties through the “Kentucky Coal County College Completion Program” to be established by the bill.
The aid would be funded with coal severance tax dollars that Combs has said could begin in the 2014-2016 state budget cycle, according to a news release from the Legislative Research Commission.
Nine Eastern Kentucky coal counties currently offer scholarships to local students who attend college or university in those counties under an executive order signed last year by the governor. HB 210 would make that program statutory, while expanding it to the other 25 coal-producing counties in Kentucky.
Maximum scholarship awards under HB 210 would be $6,600 per academic year per student at nonprofit, independent institutions, $2,200 per year per student at state university extension campuses or eligible regional centers, and $3,300 per year for students seeking a degree at a school outside the region, if the degree program is not offered in the region.
Grants totaling up to $150,000 would also be created by HB 210. The grants would go to community and technical colleges located in the coal regions for outreach to two-year students who may be considering four-year degrees.
HB 210 now returns to the full House for consideration.