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Coal severance money could fund scholarships soon

After funding to make UPike a public university was not approved, ideas started floating around about a scholarship fund.

Pike and Knott Counties are endorsing a plan that could use multi-county coal severance funds for higher education as soon as next year.

As much as six million dollars could be in the Kentucky Coal County Scholarship Fund by 2014 if the bill is passed.

"If it helps one, it helps all. And the more that we can obtain our brightest students here in east Kentucky in the long run, the more that it's going to help all of us," said Knott County Judge-Executive Randy Thompson.

Officials backing this bill say they want to retain a higher percentage of bachelor's degrees in eastern Kentucky and that this bill is one way to do it.

This fund would impact students with at least 60 hours of college credit completed in nine of the coal counties providing them with a boost to continue their education.

These scholarships could make a college education in the mountains more affordable.

"With parents and grandparents struggling to raise their children in this economy, any additional scholarship opportunities that can be offered to allow kids to pursue a higher education is just an amazing opportunity," said Dustin Combs, with the Knott County Board of Education.

Many officials say this is an excellent use of coal severance money that will make headway for economic progress in this part of the state.

These scholarships would be available to students in Bell, Harlan, Johnson, Floyd, Knott, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, and Pike Counties.

The funds must be used at a higher learning institution in a coal county.


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