Some local leaders say it is a great day for students and education here in the mountains. Multi-county coal severance funds will soon help eastern Kentucky students go to college.
It has been a work in progress for months. One that did not make it through the general assembly.
It is called the Kentucky Coal County College Completion Scholarship (K4C$), and some county and state officials say they have waited a long time to see it happen.
"This is a great day for the coal counties of eastern Kentucky, and the citizens of eastern Kentucky, and these young people," said Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford.
"Governor Steve Beshear today announced his authorization of more than $4 million of coal severance funds to be used for college scholarships in several colleges and universities in coal producing areas of the state," said Rep. Leslie Combs.
The scholarships will be available to students in 9 counties: Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, and Pike.
Some students attending UPIKE could get nearly $7,000 a year.
"We get close to providing a quality program at a competitive price with the state supported institutions," said UPIKE President Paul Patton.
UPIKE will also be creating extension campuses in each of those nine counties.
"We will offer at least two bachelor degrees that students can get at home. The extension campuses the tuition will be no more than the community college tuition," said Patton.
Officials say they hope the scholarships will allow more students to stay in the area for higher education.