Sunday, April 08, 2007

Kentucky Hurting Access To Higher Education

I was comparing notes with my brother-in-law today about colleges. When he was a student at the University of Kentucky, I was at the University of Georgia. And our tuition payments were almost identical. Fast forward to today, when I am considering sending my son to Georgia Tech. Tuition at UK is nearly double what it is at Tech, a unit of the University of Georgia System.

Part of the difference is Georgia has the HOPE scholarship, the nation's largest state-financed, merit-based aid program. What it has helped create is a market for success in the classroom. The original requirement for the scholarship was a 3.0 GPA. The promise was tuition-free education at state schools. Currently, that is a joke. A 3.0 won't get you admitted.

The merit-based scholarships have served to keep tuition costs down and that is a lesson Kentucky would do well to learn from.

The KEES scholarships may have done a little to increase access to higher education in Kentucky. A nice goal. But that nice goal is undermined by the tuition inflation that results.