This story was updated in June 2022 to reflect changes made during the 2022 Kansas Legislative session.
Did you know there’s a way for students in Kansas to obtain a certificate or associate degree at no cost?
In an effort to help Kansas businesses meet their biggest challenge — finding skilled and trained workers — the Kansas Legislature was determined to pass a bill that would provide transformative opportunities for Kansans to study in the most in-demand, high-wage and critical-need fields in the state. Leadership from the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate worked together to pass HB 2064 — commonly referred to as the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act — which Governor Laura Kelly then signed into law.
The Kansas Promise Scholarship Act provides $10 million for scholarships that are available to both traditional and non-traditional students, attending college to study the fields for which Kansas businesses are most in need of employees. In exchange for the scholarship, these students are required to live and work in Kansas for at least two years after completing the certificate or degree. Interested in exactly which fields of study are covered? Visit the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees website to learn more about eligible programs at each Kansas Community College and how to apply.
How the Kansas Promise Scholarship Works
Promise Act Scholarships pay for tuition, fees, books and required supplies (all college costs except room and board) at Kansas community colleges, technical colleges and some private, nonprofit institutions. It’s what’s known as a “last-dollar scholarship”: After all federal financial aid and scholarships are applied, the Kansas Promise Scholarship will fully cover all remaining eligible costs in the eligible field of study.
In general, the areas of study fall into the following categories:
- Information technology and security
- Mental and physical healthcare
- Advanced manufacturing and building trades
- Early childhood education and development
A field chosen by each individual college
Students can choose from many certificate or associate degree programs in these areas. While they can study either part time (at least six hours per semester) or full time, the program of study has to be completed within 36 months. After completion of the program, if the student does not continue on to achieve additional education, they must work and live in Kansas for two years. If they continue to take classes, they must live and work in Kansas for two years at the time they cease to be a student.
The scholarship is available NOW and can be used to fund classes for fall 2022. It’s open to Kansas residents who, within the past 12 months, graduated from a Kansas high school or home school program or completed a GED. Adults who are looking to make a career change or upskill to earn more in their current job are also eligible, as long as they have lived in Kansas the past three years.
Benefits of the Kansas Promise Scholarship
There are a lot of reasons this bill received extremely broad support from nearly everyone on its way through the Kansas Legislature:
- It helps Kansas businesses meet their biggest challenge of finding and keeping a skilled and trained workforce.
- It helps students save money on a college education and ensures the investment of funds is producing graduates in the most high-demand and critical job fields in Kansas.
- The investment of scholarship dollars is tied to living and working in Kansas, which ensures the state’s investment is reaped by Kansas companies. The requirement is likely to encourage students to put down roots and stay in Kansas long term.
Please encourage anyone you know who wants to complete up to two years of college without cost to them, in fields where jobs are practically guaranteed and wages are generally higher than the state average, to pursue this opportunity. The application, the student agreement form, a one-page description of the key points about the Kansas Promise Scholarship, and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees website, along with other helpful information.
If you do nothing else, reach out to your local community college and determine if the Kansas Promise Scholarship is right for you to help you meet your educational goals. Kansas businesses need you!