Tuition free for Liberal High School, SW Heights, $50 flat rate for Outreach counties
LIBERAL, Kan. — Access to early college classes for high school students is now within reach for everyone in the Seward County Community College service area, thanks to a new scholarship program announced today. SCCC President Brad Bennett and USD 480 Superintendent Todd Carter unveiled the “Saints Ahead Scholarship.”
“Students want access to college-level work while they are still in high school,” said Carter. “In the past that has been limited to career-technical education courses, which are covered by the state, or, for gen-ed classes, the ability of families to pay for college tuition privately. Creating access for everyone is a real game-changer.” COVID funding enabled USD 480 to step in with tuition assistance for spring and fall semesters in 2023.
The Saints Ahead Scholarship will pick up the baton, continuing tuition coverage for all Seward County high school students who take college courses while they are still attending high school at Liberal High School and Southwestern Heights High School. The Saints Ahead Scholarship also provides assistance to high schoolers in six additional Kansas counties served by SCCC, starting with in fall semester 2023. Those counties, Meade, Haskell, Morton, Stevens, Grant, and Stanton, contain 11 public high schools.
“We’re offering a flat rate of $50 per class for our Outreach area,” said SCCC President Bennett. “That applies to a three-credit course or a five-credit course — just $50. Our Seward County residents are already paying taxes to support SCCC; that’s the rationale for no tuition. We want to extend a similar opportunity to our entire service area.”
Carter and Bennett said the new initiative is offered alongside the existing, state-funded “Excel in CTE” program, which support tuition-free career and technical education courses at SCCC for high school students from the entire Southwest quadrant of the state.
“Saints Ahead expands the opportunities,” Bennett said. “This scholarship applies to any college class offered at SCCC, whether it’s on campus, online, or a combination with our Blendflex program or the concurrent and dual-credit classes we’ve been offering at our Outreach schools.” SCCC’s requirements for enrollment are modest: high school students must be in good academic standing, maintain a 2.5 grade point average (GPA), and work with their individual high school counselors to coordinate scheduling details.
Carter, who has seen his own district grapple with the aftereffects of COVID and the accompanying workforce challenges, said the Saints Ahead Scholarship is a welcome development.
“The Saints Ahead Scholarship will provide access and opportunity for all students to build post-secondary experiences into their Individual Plans of Study,” said Carter. “Removing the cost barrier makes post-secondary certifications and degrees a very real possibility that students and families can plan for. The result is motivation to take control of their future early and turn their plans into action.” Bennett said the SCCC Board of Trustees shares that desire.
“Our board committed to pilot this Saints Ahead Scholarship for two academic years,” he said. “For a high schooler who is a sophomore right now, that means they could potentially complete high school and an associate degree in the next two years, for almost no cost.”
Data shows that high school students who earn 15 college credits or more before graduation are more likely to enroll and persist in college, and go on to earn a degree, Bennett said. “SCCC wants to be the force for good that sets them on that path to success.”
For more information about the Saints Ahead Scholarship, contact SCCC Admissions at 620-417-1011. High school students and their parents should also consult with their high school counselors about enrollment plans.