Call to Order and Roll Call
Thefirst meeting of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, July 11, 2011, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Reginald Meeks, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Alice Forgy Kerr, Co-Chair; Representative Reginald Meeks, Co-Chair; Senators Jared Carpenter, Gerald A. Neal, R.J. Palmer II, Johnny Ray Turner, Mike Wilson, and Ken Winters; Representatives C. B. Embry Jr., Donna Mayfield, Ryan Quarles, Jody Richards, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, and Addia Wuchner.
Legislative Guests: Representatives Derrick Graham and John Will Stacy.
Postsecondary Outreach Initiatives
Ms. Lee Nimocks, Chief of Staff, Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), said President King regretted not attending the meeting but had a long standing meeting commitment with campus leadership regarding performance targets. She said the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) and CPE work closely to help clear pathways and help students navigate their way to postsecondary education. This could be an apprenticeship, vocational, or certificate program, or any opportunity for students to move forward with their education after high school graduation.
Ms. Nimocks said the CPE is addressing potential challenges to the at-risk population. A handout was included in members’ folders that provided a range of data points to identify challenges and opportunities in specific geographic regions. The data points included per capita income; poverty, Medicaid, unemployment and college readiness rates; education attainment levels; and many others. She said CPE is working on closing the gaps between the low-income population, the underprepared, and the underrepresented minority groups and obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Dr. Rana Johnson, Chief Diversity Officer, CPE, said it is important to educate parents, as well as students, on the importance of the underprepared and minority students receiving a college degree. It is equally important to provide support and assistance to those parents and students who are unfamiliar with the public postsecondary education system.
Dr. Johnson said the Annual Academically Proficient African-American High School Junior and Senior Conference assists students in transition from high school to postsecondary education. It offers Kentucky colleges and universities opportunities to recruit promising minority students in their junior and senior years. It informs rising high school sophomores and juniors about the college admissions process and provides students and parents the opportunity to visit campuses.
Dr. Johnson said since 1993, the conference has been open to both students and parents from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. The conference has been hosted by Kentucky’s eight public universities, as well as several of the private and independent institutions. Parents and students receive a preview of all the special opportunities and programs that the host institution offers.
Dr. Johnson said the conference allows parents and students to visit the campus and see if the institution is a good fit for the student before making a commitment. The conference is free, but there is a nominal charge of 10 to 12 dollars for the students and parents to stay overnight.
Dr. Johnson said the largest turnout for the conference was in Louisville in 2007. The second largest turnout was at Transylvania University in 2003, and the third largest turnout was at Morehead State University in 2011. She said there were 45 to 50 parents who attended in 2011, which is significant considering Morehead State University is located in a rural area.
Dr. Johnson said parents and students see many advantages to attending the conference. Most campus visits last a day and a half. There is also an opportunity for parents and students to meet one-on-one with the university president, faculty members, and department heads. The benefits for students are dialogue with campus representatives, a guided tour, overnight stay, workshops, and the college and career fair. Advantages for parents include understanding the admission process, information sessions, question and answer opportunities with administrators, locating campus resources, and finding the best fit. Members were shown a short video of highlights from the 2011 conference.
Dr. Johnson said the Governor’s Minority Student College Preparation Program (GMSCPP) was created in 1986 by Governor Martha Layne Collins to increase the number of prepared minority students in the pipeline. It offers academic enrichment to students in grades six through eight in computer and technology skills, cultural diversity, math, science, and reading. It administers pre and post tests to assess academic skill levels, and includes a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) component. With KHEAA’s assistance, the program overviews student aid and other financial resources and encourages parental involvement. GMSCPP served 8,952 students between 2003 and 2010.
Representative Meeks said these programs are important to all students and parents in the Commonwealth, not just minority students.
In response to a question from Senator Kerr, Dr. Johnson responded that her programs were not currently affiliated with the Governor’s Scholar Program, but they are discussing possible future collaborations.
Dr. Yvonne Lovell, Executive Director, Kentucky Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs Outreach (GEAR UP), said GEAR UP in Kentucky was authorized by Congress in 1998. The goal of the program is to increase the college-going rate of low-income students and provide college outreach and support services. Funding is supported by a combination of federal and non-federal funds and is a dollar-for-dollar match. The average annual award for Kentucky programs is $5.5 million.
Dr. Lovell said GEAR UP relies on support and contributions from partnerships. The partnerships are designed to expand services in areas where they do not exist and supplement programs that currently exist. There are seven host sites that help CPE administer the program. She noted 13,000 students are served under the current grant in 52 middle schools and 30 high schools. This compares nationally to 1,000,000 students served in over 5,000 schools.
Dr. Lovell said GEAR UP provides resources and builds capacity in schools to increase college awareness and planning, improve academic preparation, foster parents’ engagement, promote educational aspirations, enrich teaching practices, and provide scholarships. There was a significant increase in the percentage of students in 2010 who knew their postsecondary plans as compared in 2000 because GEAR UP is creating a college-going culture.
Dr. Lovell said CPE is writing its new GEAR UP grant application. Congress is discussing making further reductions to the program, reducing Kentucky’s chances to one in three of receiving additional funding. Forty-seven states are currently funded for GEAR UP, and only 15 states will be awarded the new grants.
In response to a question from Representative Riner, Dr. Lovell said a student on scholarship who must drop out of college for personal hardships may be able to work with the guidance counselor at the institution to make connections with other universities or attend on a part-time basis. Ms. Nimocks said KHEAA can provide assistance to these students with barriers. Most cases are handled on a case-by-case basis by student and institution.
Ms. Susan Hopkins, Director of Outreach Services, KHEAA, said KHEAA was created in 1966 and is a state government agency within the Finance and Administration Cabinet. It provides students with financial aid, informational services, and savings programs, particularly the Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust.
Ms. Hopkins said the College Access Challenge Grant is federally funded. KHEAA was designated by Governor Beshear as the agency to administer the grant in Kentucky. Funding allows KHEAA to enhance the array of services provided to students and partners. KHEAA uses field staff, publications, and the internet to promote outreach services.
Ms. Hopkins said the College Info Road Show improves access to higher education by providing critical services to students and parents in their own communities. It uses technology to connect students with the information they need to research, pursue, and succeed in education beyond high school. An onboard counselor helps students learn about careers, choose a college or trade school, apply for admissions and financial aid, and avoid common application mistakes. There are 12 computer workstations with automatic internet access that allow students to explore kheaa.com and helpful websites, check their Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) account online and search for colleges that match their interests. An external monitor is used for outdoor events.
Ms. Hopkins said KHEAA administers the Gotocollege.ky.gov website. It serves as a one-stop portal to college information for middle and high school students, adults returning to school, military families, online and transfer students, and GED students. The KHEAA College Cost and Planning Report is a college planning tool that provides a personalized breakdown of college costs and anticipated financial aid at up to six nationwide institutions of the student’s choosing. It also helps families make informed decisions about their higher education options.
Ms. Hopkins said “It’s Money Baby” is a financial literacy resource designed to teach students to manage finances. It helps students make wise decisions about matters that affect their credit and financial well-being. Key topics include budgeting, saving, credit, and college money.
Ms. Hopkins said the new Kentucky College Coaches Program is a result of a recommendation from the Governor’s Higher Education Work Group. It is a partnership involving Area Technology Centers, Berea College, CPE, GEAR UP, Kentucky Campus Compact, and KHEAA. Near-peer college advisors work one-on-one with students at select schools. KHEAA’s participating schools are selected according to low-income and college-going-rate statistics. KHEAA is in the process of gathering data from the first year of the program, and an independent evaluation will be conducted.
Mr. Keith Ritchie, Kentucky College Coach, Lewis County High School, testified testimony about the college coach program in Vanceburg, Kentucky. He said poverty is a huge issue, and the median household income is approximately $15,000 a year. Seventy-five percent of the students in the high school are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. Students’ attitudes are changing about postsecondary education, and more students are enrolling for college as a result of the program.
Ms. Hopkins said the Kentucky College Coaches Program targets 50 students in each high school, which is equivalent to 12 or 13 students in each grade level participating. Students are selected by the school counselor and have been identified as at-risk. The program targets 50 core students, but also works with whole school populations. KHEAA will report data results at a later time as this is the program’s first year of implementation.
Ms. Hopkins said there are several factors KHEAA uses as indicators of success for its outreach programs. These include college participation rates, participation rates of low-income students, postsecondary enrollment, adults enrolling in college, change in number of students applying for financial aid, and use of online tools. Student surveys are distributed to receive factual information and success stories. Final analysis should indicate that outreach activities are altering participants’ attitudes and expectations toward higher education, and the information presented is alleviating students’ anxieties about being able to afford college. Participants should gain a significantly better base of knowledge regarding what types of aid are available, how to apply for aid, and awareness of resources.
In response to questions from Representative Richards, Ms. Hopkins said there are 65 positions available throughout the state for the Kentucky College Coaches program. Some positions are full-time and others part-time depending on the needs of the school or area technology center in the district. Funding for the positions is partially provided by AmeriCorps, and includes health insurance, child care assistance, and $5,350 for educational expenses at the end of service. The education award can be used for graduate school or to repay student loans, or it may be shared with a sibling or family member. Partners of KHEAA provide matches for the coach’s living stipend.
Mr. Ritchie said that his contract will be finished when funding is depleted through AmeriCorps. He coordinates his efforts with the guidance counselor, principal, and KHEAA representative on a regular basis. Young men need to be encouraged to go to college and not feel like they need to get a job immediately after graduating high school. It is critical that these students be aware of financial aid and to understand that they can work and attend school at the same time.
In response to a question from Representative Richards, Ms. Hopkins said she did not have details about the Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust participation. The program is advertised through mailings to hospitals, physician offices, and daycare centers. At the request of Ms. Hopkins, Ms. Jo Carole Ellis, Education Legislative Analyst and former employee of KHEAA, said that 9,000 or 10,000 families are enrolled in the program, but it is necessary to check with KHEAA for an official number.
In response to a question from Senator Winters, Ms. Hopkins said home-school students are a difficult group to reach. She suggested communicating with them through community events because they do not have access to guidance counselors. Parents should be aware of the website, kheaa.com. Home school students are not eligible for the KEES funds based on grade point averages. They are, however, eligible to receive the bonus KEES awards that are based on ACT scores.
In response to a comment from Representative Wuchner, Ms. Hopkins said KHEAA would look into the wording on page four of the “2010 KHEAA Outreach Annual Report.” Representative Wuchner would like to change the word “breeds” in the sentence “this environment breeds a social culture that does not often see the value of higher education.”
In response to a question from Representative Meeks, Ms. Hopkins said members can contact her directly to ensure KHEAA’s presence is available at local fairs and community events. There is a map including KHEAA’s outreach counselors’ names and phone numbers located in the members’ meeting folders.
Representative Meeks said the next subcommittee meeting would be Monday, August 1, 2011. He told members to take note that this is a change from the regular meeting schedule.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.