Recently, I wrote a blog post about how Los Angeles County in California is offering one free year of community college for all LA county graduating high school seniors. I was secretly hoping that this would become a trend that we might see across many other states in the country, however when I was scanning I saw that one state is doing the unthinkable. The state of Kentucky’s lawmakers reached an agreement on a revised plan for free community college, but the state’s governor has decided to delay the implementation for another year. The planned scholarships would have paid for up to two years of college for the state’s high school graduates.

So why would someone veto legislation that would allow students to avoid up to two years in educational debt? Well in his veto letter on the legislation Republican Governor Matt Bevin claims that this action “should not, in any way, be misconstrued as a negative reflection on the laudable goals of educating and preparing students for higher education and career success,” and instead that he too shares “the goals of the legislators who supported House Bill 626. However, they were hastily written and overly broad provisions included… that should not be enshrined in statute.” And he wasn’t alone in his thinking. Klarer, vice president of government relations with the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, said the one-year delay actually gives higher education officials more time to craft a better program than what would have passed under the budget.

But as a fellow student I wonder what happens to all those high school seniors set to graduate in less than a month? What happens to the ones planning on this scholarship program to help them fund their education? Well, if you look into Bill 626 and read the fine details you start to get a better picture of why this Bill didn’t pass. The program, which was modeled after the Tennessee Promise, would operate on a last-dollar method, meaning aid would be given to students to cover any tuition and fees that federal and state grants or assistance programs do not. What! So the words Free don’t actually mean free?

This turned out to be a huge concern for all stakeholders. The way the Bill was originally written was confusing and poorly written. Many students were under the initial impression that their first two years would be fully paid for, affording students the opportunity to go debt free for at least the first two years of college. Along with the poor language included in the bill, it also was much too broad having not cap on the dollar about and expanding to students attending any of the state’s four-year public, nonprofit and private institutions alike.

Klarer sums it up with, “We got really close, but we’re not quite there yet.”

So, what do you think? Should college be entirely free only only in part? Should Bills like this one be more or less common?

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