Kansas College AP news

With another school year kicking off in a few weeks, eligible Kansas Colleges are working to let students know about the Kansas Promise Scholarship program.  This is  the second year for the program that pays for tuition, fees, books, and supplies for students to obtain an associate’s degree in high-demand industries needed in the region.  

In return, students must complete the program within 36 months and agree to live and work in Kansas for two consecutive years following the successful completion of the program or pay the money back. 

The idea behind the program is twofold: The first is to shrink job gaps in high demand industries needed in the region. The second is to keep talented, young people in Kansas to counter declining populations in the state.     

The scholarships are available for students succeeding degrees in the following four areas of study: 

  • Information technology and security

  • Mental and physical health care

  • Advanced manufacturing and building trades

  • Early childhood education and development


According to Rep. Senator Molly Baumgardner, who was instrumental in passage of the scholarship program, programs in these areas of study generally lead to job opportunities within the state. 

“The areas (of study) this is available for, those are the areas that we have all kinds of job openings throughout the state,” Baumgarden said.

Additionally, each community college and institution can designate one additional area of study that scholarship recipients can enroll in based on the needs in the region.

How the scholarship works:

This scholarship is considered a last dollar scholarship, which means the scholarship kicks in to fill the gap of unmet financial need after all other available financial aid (grants and scholarships) are used.  

Students will need to begin by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Rep. Baumgardner said many prospective students didn’t realize they were eligible for FAFSA benefits or Federal Pell Grants – which do not need to be repaid and are awarded to low-income students.

The scholarship program can be particularly helpful in filling the gap for students who make too much money to qualify for a Pell Grant.  With an income cap of $150,000 for a family of two and $154,800 for a family of four, the program allows for a broadened level of eligibility.  

“We want a student that’s eligible for anything that’s out there to receive it,” Baumgarden said. “We want folks to just have as many opportunities as possible.”

Promise Scholarship Eligibility:

Eligible students need to be a Kansas resident at the time of application for the scholarship. Eligible persons would also need to have graduated high school or an equivalent within the past year, or be a resident of Kansas for three or more consecutive years. Dependents of military service personnel are also eligible. Additionally, anyone who was in the Kansas foster care program during their “high school years” but did not qualify for a foster care tuition waiver is eligible regardless of age.

The scholarship requires a student to be enrolled, a minimum six credit hours per semester, but it does not require a student to be enrolled full-time. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP), which is set by each institution.

The Kansas Promise Scholarship could be a great bridge for anyone who feels like they have never got the skills training they wanted or is looking to begin a new career.

“Essentially the Promise scholarship allows anyone in Kansas who’s willing to live and work here for two years to get an associate’s degree at no cost to them,” Morgan said.

If a student chooses to go to a four-year institute after graduating from the community college they would still need to satisfy the university’s two-year work requirement after graduating. 

Enrollment for the scholarship is on a rolling basis, which allows multiple opportunities throughout the school year for students to take advantage of the scholarship. For example,  some technical colleges offer 8 week courses over the course of the calendar year, which allows more frequency to enroll.

Eligible institutions:

Most of the state’s community colleges participate in the program.  In the Kansas City area, Johnson County Community College, Donnelly College, Kansas City Kansas Community College, and MidAmerican Nazarene Community College all have programs that support the Promise Scholarship. 

In the Wichita area, Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology, Newman University, Butler Community College and  Hutchinson Community College all offer Kansas Promise Scholarship qualified programs.  

A full list of Kansas instututions is available at the Kansas Promise Scholarship website.

The Kansas City Kansas Community College currently has 25 programs eligible for the scholarship and Johnson County Community College lists more than 50.

How it’s going so far:

The Kansas Promise Scholarship, implemented in educational institutions in Fall 2021, is already seeing positive growth among students. According to statistics, Rep. Senator Baumgardner cited a 32% increase in growth of students applying and receiving scholarship money between the Fall 2021 semester and Spring 2022 semester.

During the first semester of the program 66 Kansas Promise Scholarships were issued for a total of $1.5 million in funding.  The most popular programs were mental and physical healthcare, 376 scholarships awarded, and advanced manufacturing and building trades, 151 scholarships awarded.  

Johnson County Community College issued the most scholarships (87) followed by Wichita Tech (78) followed by Butler County Community College (71).  For some reason Kansas City Community College fell way behind with just 15 scholarships awarded.  

Heather Morgan said since the program is still young one of the goals is to continue to make Kansan’s aware the program exists.

“We think it’s a good start,” Morgan said. “We hope that more Kansans will find the benefits of the Promise scholarship and high school students and others in our community will start to learn about it.”

Expanding the eligibility to include anyone in foster care was important to reach additional segments of the population, according to Baumgardner. 

“We know that we have a very low graduation rate for foster care, so one of the things we wanted was to have this available as an incentive for any foster kids,” Baumgardner said. “So we really did work to grow that eligibility to make sure that population had that opportunity.”