KEES standard may change

Shawntaye Hopkins

The state legislature may hold the key to the future of a popular scholarship program.

Kentucky college students will have to meet higher standards to get money from the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships, if a bill passes through the state legislature.

If passed, Senate Bill 238 would increase the requirement for student to get KEES money from a 2.5 grade point average to a 3.0.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Lindy Casebier, R-Louisville. It passed out of the House Education Committee on March 4.

The scholarship program is expected to lose $5 million to $8 million in the next biennium because of a decrease in lottery revenue, said Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville.

Students currently in college and receiving KEES money will have to maintain a 3.0 GPA, or they would lose their awards.

“That is pretty much the normal expectation for any merit based initiative,” said Shaughnessy, a co-sponsor of the bill.

President Gary Ransdell agreed.

“It’s hard to call it a merit based scholarship if you can earn one with less than a 3.0 grade point average,” he said.

If the bill passes, the money saved will go toward need-based financial aid, he said.

Most of the students admitted to Western have a GPA of 2.5 or greater, said Luther Hughes, associate vice president for academic affairs.

Hughes said there has been discussion about KEES requirements since the program started, Hughes said.

Joe McCormack, executive director of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, said he agrees with the change. He said most merit based scholarships require at least a 3.0 GPA.

McCormack said most students can get a B average if they apply themselves more to their work.

“We’re not asking them to do the impossible,” he said. “We’re raising the bar and (students) can rise to meet it.”

John Bradley, president of the Student Government Association, said standards for students already in college shouldn’t be changed.

“Changing the rules after the start of the game is inappropriate and very irresponsible,” he said.

Bradley said he is still concerned about the cuts education has been forced to make.

“I think the average student coming out of high school with a 2.5 is certainly deserving of KEES money,” he said.

The new lottery in Tennessee that began this year is expected to drain money from Kentucky’s scholarship program.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]