OPINION

Kansas Promise Act Scholarship will help students with education and add to work force for state's employers

Nancy Ingram
Special to Gannett Kansas
Nancy Ingram

It is a familiar refrain across the state that more skilled workers are needed for hire by Kansas companies. Good jobs are available, but too often prospective employees lack the specialized training needed to be successful. The Kansas Promise Act Scholarship is a critical component in developing our local workforce and raising the earning power of Kansas students.

Whether someone is a recent high school graduate, or an adult employee seeking an industry recognized credential or associate degree at a Kansas community college, Kansas now offers a “no cost to you” scholarship to complete your education/training in any of the following areas: information technology and security; mental and physical healthcare; advanced manufacturing and building trades; and early childhood education and development.

This is a wonderful opportunity. The Kansas Promise Act Scholarships pay for tuition, fees, books and required program supplies in what is known as a “last-dollar scholarship.” After all federal financial aid and other scholarships are applied, the Kansas Promise Act Scholarship will fully cover any remaining eligible costs in the eligible field of study.

In exchange for the scholarship, recipients are required to live and work in Kansas for at least two years after completing the certificate or degree.

Passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law in 2021 by the governor, the bill represents Kansas legislators’ recognition that too many students were left behind, thinking college wasn't something they could afford. The Kansas Promise Act Scholarship serves to address those who need additional financial resources to attain the training required for careers in high demand occupations, while providing incentive for Kansas students to work for Kansas companies.

As local businesses seek to find employees with relevant skills training, Kansas community colleges are proud to be part of the solution. Today, all 19 community colleges across the state offer the Kansas Promise Act Scholarship in the four program areas, plus an additional area specific to their local industry needs.

For those who have ever thought they would like to obtain a degree but couldn't afford it, this scholarship program is a tool for realizing those dreams. The eligible program areas represent growing industries with a demand for employees. Students will graduate with confidence in their ability to obtain employment in their area of training. The jobs are plentiful and Kansas employers are eager to hire community college graduates from these programs.

Several years ago, the Legislature passed a bill that enabled high school students receiving career technical education to take those courses tuition free at Kansas community and technical colleges. The Kansas Promise Act Scholarship will build off the success of that incredible initiative, making specific learning areas also available to adult learners at no cost to them.

The Kansas Promise Act Scholarship is among the best tools available to build a stronger workforce and empower Kansans with an education to fulfil the needs of the Kansas business community.

For Kansas to meet its biggest challenge of finding and retaining a skilled and trained workforce, we must connect our citizens with opportunities for success. The Kansas Promise Act Scholarship meets that challenge and will allow this to occur throughout the State. By tying the investment of scholarship dollars to living and working in Kansas, the state’s investment is reaped by Kansas companies and will encourage recipients to stay in Kansas long term.

We urge our fellow Kansans to share this opportunity with their family, colleagues and neighbors. Anyone interested in completing up to two years of college without cost to them, in fields with outstanding possibilities, and wages generally higher than the state average, should pursue the Kansas Promise Act Scholarship. For more information, visit www.KACCT.org or your local community college for more information. Opportunity awaits!

Nancy Ingram is president of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees.