EKU Initiatives Helping Families Cut Costs of College Education

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September is College Savings Month in Kentucky, as recently proclaimed by Gov. Steve Beshear.

At Eastern Kentucky University, several initiatives are helping students and their families cut the costs of a college education.

Dr. Janna Vice, provost and vice president of academic affairs, was among the speakers at a proclamation ceremony on the Richmond campus Sept. 7. Jonathan Miller, secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet, and David Lawhorn, program coordinator for the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), also addressed the audience.

“This fall, universities across the nation have enrolled an unprecedented number of students,” Vice said. “These students face unprecedented tuition costs. Yet, even with rising tuition costs, a college education is an investment of a lifetime.”

In addition to the many “intrinsic” values of higher education, Vice noted that:

·       college graduates, on average, earn approximately 60 percent more than employees without a degree.

·       college graduates are likely to earn $1 million more over their lifetime than those without a degree.

·       workers without a degree are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than college graduates.

“As institutions nationally face decreasing state funding, more of the costs of education are being passed to students,” Vice said, “so saving for college is very important.”

To cut costs for students and families, EKU is:

·       helping students plan their curriculum so they can graduate in four years. The University also has reduced the number of credits required to 120 hours for programs where appropriate.

·       working with schools throughout the region to offer transition courses to high school seniors to decrease the number of developmental math and reading courses students are required to take upon entering Eastern as freshmen. Results of the pilot program show that from a total of 253 participating students, 84 percent of the students demonstrated readiness for a college credit-bearing mathematics course, with 64 percent demonstrating readiness for college algebra. “This represents a savings of approximately $284,000 in tuition costs associated with the developmental math coursework that is no longer necessary for these students to achieve college readiness in math,” Vice noted.

·       providing qualified high school juniors and seniors an early start to college through the EKU Now! dual credit program. During 2009-2010, Eastern enrolled more than 300 high school students in dual credit courses, and waived almost 2,000 credit hours, which resulted in a savings to these high school students of $518,241.50.  In addition to the tuition savings, the EKU Now! students who entered Eastern this fall brought with them 9 to 29 credit hours.

“EKU is committed to continuing programs to make college accessible,” Vice said.

In proclaiming September as College Savings Month, Beshear said: “Saving for college is important for all Kentucky families. It’s never too early or too late to start. College Savings Month is a good way to remind Kentuckians of the importance of obtaining a college education.”

Miller, representing Beshear at the proclamation conference at EKU, added: “Never before has access to higher education been more important for the individual and for our state. Kentucky continues to make progress in providing tools and resources to help families plan for the costs associated with college enrollment.”

Many Kentuckians are taking advantage of the Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust (KESPT), the Commonwealth’s 529 college savings plan. Information about KESPT, and other online college planning resources, is available at gotocollege.ky.gov, created last year as the recommendation of the Governor’s Higher Education Work Group, chaired by Miller.

KESPT is administered by KHEAA and managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing Inc. For more information about KESPT, visit www.kysaves.com or call 1-877-KY-TRUST.

For more information about Kentucky scholarships and grants, visit www.kheaa.com, write KHEAA at P.O. Box 798, Frankfort, Ky., 40602-0798, or call 800-928-8926, ext. 6-7372.

Published on September 08, 2010

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