February 4, 2016

Students Urge Lawmakers to Honor the Powerball Promise

FRANKFORT — Four students urged lawmakers on Thursday to fund two need-based higher education scholarships called the College Assistance Program and the Kentucky Tuition Grant at the statutory level. Over the past five years, these need-based grants have been underfunded by an average of about $28 million. This money could help make college affordable for an additional 15,000-20,000 students.

Eliza Jane Schaeffer, a Senior at Henry Clay High School; Jamie Smith, a Senior at Henry Clay High School; Susie Smith, a Freshman at the University of Kentucky and graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; and Andrew Brennan, a Sophomore at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, testified on behalf of the Student Voice Team. 

They shared the stories of Kentucky college students who received state financial aid and who otherwise might not have attended college. 

Under the current budget proposal, CAP and KTG would remain underfunded, even as tuition at 4-year institutions has increased by 44%, and tuition at KCTCS has increased by 31%. 

Andrew Brennen, the Student Director of the Student Voice Team said that the group was pleased that 100% of lottery funds would go towards education. However, he stressed the importance of “following the statutory obligation for the funding of the CAP and KTG programs”.  “The futures of tens of thousands of Kentucky students should not be left up to chance,” he said. 

The Student Voice Team had previously conducted in-depth research on the inequities inherent in the postsecondary transition. They view the underfunding of need-based scholarships, which make college possible for low income students across Kentucky, as yet another inequity. The students see this as an area for potential growth for the state. “A more educated workforce means income tax revenue and fewer people dependent on entitlement programs. In fact,” argued Eliza Jane Schaeffer,  “if Kentucky were to raise its educational attainment level to the national average, it would generate an additional $900 million in state revenue.” 

The Student Voice Team was founded in 2012 at the Prichard Committee, a nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky for all ages. 

Since 2021 they have been the Kentucky Student Voice Team, an independent, statewide organization organization of young people who are co-creating more just, democratic Kentucky schools & communities as research, policy & advocacy partners.