Coalfield college scholarships clear first hurdle

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - College students from the coalfields would be eligible for special scholarships under legislation that passed the House Education Committee on Thursday.

Democratic state Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville, the bill's sponsor, said the scholarships of up to $6,600 a year would be available only to college juniors and seniors in one of the state's 34 coal-producing counties in eastern and western Kentucky.

Called the Kentucky Coal County College Completion Scholarship Program, the initiative is a compromise that came from a failed push last year to create a four-year public university in the Appalachian coalfields. Lawmakers saw that proposal, intended to boost the number of college graduates in the coalfields, as too expensive considering Kentucky's tight state budget.

The money for the scholarships will come from a tax on mined coal.

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