GARDEN CITY, Kansas – In secondary education students often turn to grants and scholarships, but for some that isn’t an option.
“Students without a high school diploma or a GED, they don’t qualify for financial aid or scholarships,” said Nora Salazar, the Transition Advisor at Garden City Community College.
The state senate recently passed two bills. Accelerating Opportunity Kansas Proviso is a tuition reimbursement program that encourages colleges to work with students without a high school diploma. The GED Accelerator is an incentive program that pushes students to get both their G.E.D. and an industry recognized credential.
Logan Babcock is taking advantage of it to earn his GED and become an EMT.
“The technical programs are very expensive, and unless I have the start-up capital I really can’t do them,” he said.
With no diploma to get a job and no paycheck to pay for that education, the programs help students break the cycle and ultimately give them a shot at joining the workforce.
“With this opportunity, all those barriers are being removed, especially financial,” said Hector Martinez, the Director of Adult Learning Services at GCCC. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
The state will provide at least $2.4 million out of the general fund. $500,000 will come out of the Technical education fund and go toward Accelerating Opportunity. GED Accelerator will receive $1.9 million out of the general fund. The Department of Children and Families is providing an additional $1.7 million for Accelerating Opportunity, TANF eligible students, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which is based off of income and location.
Colleges will waive tuition fees for students who enroll in the programs and then report the students to the Board of Regents office to receive funding.
While potential students will benefit the programs will fill much needed technical career openings in Kansas communities.
“I’ll be able to get into the program and hopefully start getting financial aid and all that, and get off the ground,” said Babcock.