Pike County officials are lobbying lawmakers to make the University of Pikeville a state school.
A bill that would make it happen was just filed Tuesday by House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) and Representative Leslie Combs (D-Pikeville).
Combs says she thinks the proposal is the best way to raise the college graduation rate in the region.
Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce officials say it could be the biggest economic change in the region in a half-century.
Pike County officials say it would improve the economic future for all generations.
The bill was filed the same day as students started registering for the spring semester.
WYMT talked to some students about the proposal. Kourteney Winner said, "I'm excited for tuition to go down, but I also like the private school."
A public school could make a big difference on her pocketbook.
"It's a ten thousand dollar difference, who doesn't love to save money?" she said.
Freshmen Keith Daugherty and Rush Stacy also like cheaper tuition but are not sure the money saved would be worth it to them.
"I like it the way it is because it's private, it's small, close to home," said Daugherty.
"Tuition coming down would be a bonus, but staying a private school, less people get in, get more room for people in the dorm," said Stacy.
Pike County leaders believe cheaper tuition and more students would pay off for the whole community in the long run.
"A significant increase in job availability, housing demand, and demands for needs for services and retail options. I think we will see a significant impact into our work force here and opportunities it can create for jobs," said Brad Hall with the Southeast Chamber of Commerce.
"The missing link is getting people educated. Jobs is the key thing for future generations, but for jobs, you have to have an educated workforce," said Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford.
Stumbo says Kentucky would invest $12 million a year and getting $170 million worth of facilities.
He says the funding would come from coal severance taxes.