Kentucky: Where Education Pays–Part I
If you drive down I-71 from Ohio down to Kentucky, you see a sign announcing your arrival to the bluegrass state, with the phrase “Where education pays” on the right hand corner. Based on my own experience, there is some validity to that statement, if you plan ahead. Not only was I able to get my tuition paid for, I was also able to cover all my living expenses with scholarships.
One of the major ways Kentuckians finance their education is through the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES). To sum it up, it’s free money for good grades if you attend a community college or four- year university in Kentucky. Each year of high school you accumulate scholarship money based on your GPA, if it is at least a 2.5 (back when I was in high school, you began accumulating money with a 2.0 GPA, looks like they raised their standards during the recession). Here is the GPA chart posted on the KEES website:
So, hypothetically, let’s say a student has a 3.00 GPA his freshman year, a 3.75 his sophomore year, a 3.30 his junior year, and a 4.00 his senior year. So, adding up the money he accumulates each year he will receive a $1512 KEES Scholarship each year of college for up to four years. On top of that, students can receive an ACT bonus (those who take the SAT will get their scores converted to an ACT score) based on their score. Here is the chart for the ACT bonus:
|ACT Score||Bonus Amount|
Let’s say the same hypothetical student got a 26 on his ACT. He would receive a $428 bonus, which brings his annual total to $1940. So if he went to a four-year university, he would receive a total of $7760 from the state of Kentucky without having to fill out a scholarship application. I realized that compared to how much the tuition bill is, $7760 over four years seems like just a drop in the bucket. But when you think about how much you can save on interest if you take out a loan, or how many, hours you have to work at a minimum wage job to save up that amount a money, $7760 is a nice sum of money. I used an online loan calculator with the following parameters: Interest Rate: 6.8% Loan Fees: 1.0% Loan Term: 10 years Total Years in College: 4 years The total interest paid would be over $3000, which can be better spent elsewhere. If you worked a part time minimum-wage job (which is $7.25 in Kentucky during college , you would have to work 1070 hours to make $7760 if you don’t take taxes into account. Based on these calculations, I think it is important for high school students to keep their grades up; grades are worth money. I received the maximum KEES reward of $2500 a year during undergrad. My high school didn’t have a plus/minus system for grades, which made it easier for me to get a 4.0 each year. Also, for most of my high school classes, all I had to do was turn in my homework assignments on time, pay attention and take good notes in class, and participate in class discussions to get A’s. To me, I was getting free money for being a responsible student.