Louisville officials on Tuesday delivered a long-awaited promise to the city’s public school graduates: a guaranteed two years of tuition-free college, Tuition Fee


“I can’t tell you, first of all, how meaningful it is for a child, a student, to be handed a check to pay for college,” said Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio. “And that’s what this is.”

“This is going to change the lives of children in this community,” he said.

Beginning with the Class of 2021, all JCPS graduates will be eligible for a “last dollar” scholarship that will cover any remaining tuition and fees not paid for by other scholarships or federal or state grants.

Students will be able to apply the scholarship to a two-year college degree, technical credential or workforce certification at any Kentucky Community or Technical College or at Simmons College of Kentucky, Louisville’s historically Black college.

Tuition Fee, The scholarships will be made possible by an endowment being secured by local education nonprofit Evolve502, officials said Tuesday.

Evolve502 will also offer “opportunity grants” for graduates from families earning less than $40,000 annually to assist with expenses outside of tuition.

Evolve502 will also offer “opportunity grants” for graduates from families earning less than $40,000 annually to assist with expenses outside of tuition.

“The universal design of our program and the message of free tuition is intended to reach our most vulnerable students — low income, historically marginalized, first-generation college attenders,” said Marland Cole, executive director of Evolve502.

With the announcement, Louisville joins dozens of cities nationwide that have embraced “promise scholarships” as a means of boosting college attainment — and, in turn, local economies.

Tuition Fee, Officials also announced a new partnership between Evolve502 and the University of Louisville, which will allow some low-income “Evolve502 Scholars” to continue their education at U of L free of cost.

“We are stepping up to tell you that we will cover all tuition,” said U of L President Neeli Bendapudi. “… We will do our very best to help you make your dreams come true.”

The ultimate goal, according to Evolve502, is to raise $50 million. That figure will allow every student currently in JCPS — from kindergarten through 12th grade — to have a chance to apply for an Evolve502 scholarship.

“This bodes well for the future of the Louisville economy, for the future of the neighborhoods in Louisville who are going to benefit from having college graduates living there, and for the students themselves,” said Ty Handy, president of Jefferson Community & Technical College.

The Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education estimates an associate degree holder will earn $422,000 more than a high school graduate over their lifetime and will earn 40 times the investment they make in obtaining the degree.

Too often, though, the rising cost of college has deterred students from seeking a degree — particularly those from low-income households and whose parents did not graduate from college themselves.

Tuition Fee, According to Evolve502, Louisville is currently ranked 11 out of 16 peer cities in postsecondary attainment, with the percentage of JCPS graduates attending college dropping more than 10% between 2009 and 2019.

Cost is repeatedly reported as the No. 1 factor in students not pursuing a degree, Evolve502 has reported.

Moreover, college-going rates in Kentucky lag for the state’s Black and Latino students.

After a summer of protests over systemic racism rocked Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer on Tuesday called the new promise scholarship “a direct response to the cries for racial justice like those that we’re hearing in our streets.

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