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Project Idaho: New 'promise' for post secondary education

The first legislative draft of "Idaho Promise" was presented by state Senator Grant Burgoyne on Monday. (CBS2 Staff Photo)

The first legislative draft of "Idaho Promise" was presented by state Senator Grant Burgoyne on Monday.

It's purpose is to provide guidance and "last dollar" scholarships to students enrolling in community college or career tech programs.

"For many Idaho students the gap between their financial resources and the actual cost of attending college or workforce training is just too wide," Sen. Burgoyne said.

Sen. Burgoyne says the state of Idaho is stuck in neutral when it comes to meeting the goal of 60 percent of it's 23 to 34 year olds having post secondary credentials. Idaho currently stands at about 42 percent.

He says Idaho promise will remove barriers by providing state funded tuition and fee assistance to community college and career tech students no matter their age or their income.

"It will provide guidance and other help to students and their families in obtaining federal Pell grants and scholarships which in many cases will fully cover their community college tuition and fees," Sen. Burgoyne said. "If these financial sources fall short of that than the state will provide a 'last dollar" scholarship to make up the difference."

Scholarship recipients must also be involved in a community service program. He says the program is not just about money.

Idaho Education policy analyst Jean Henscheid says she's talked to hundreds of educators and students to ask what more the state can do.

"What these people have told us is that we do not have a go-on problem. We have not failed as Idahoans and we don't have an anti-college culture here," Jean Henscheid said "We have a last mile problem."

The last mile is the distance between applying for post secondary education and actually showing up.

"Last year 10,000 students applied to go to one of our eight public colleges and universities. Last fall 2,600 of them didn't show up,"said Jean Henscheid

They say that gap between high school graduation and the start of college plays a big role. "Idaho Promise" would provide students with pre and post enrollment mentors to keep them on the path to completion.

"The ultimate goal is to get Idaho on the right side of workforce development," Sen. Burgoyne said. "I think we know that the state's that get the workforce are going to get the jobs and we have to develop our workforce in Idaho if we want to command higher wages for our people and we want to have a stronger economy."

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